How to Make a Belly Dance Bra Fit

by Marisawright

It's so exciting to buy your first real Egyptian or Turkish bedleh, - and a huge disappointment to find the bra doesn't fit. Here's what to do!

The easiest way to make a belly dance bra fit properly is to make one yourself! However, making your own belly dance bra can be very time-consuming if you want something that's heavily bejewelled and embellished. And if you need a matching bra and belt set, you're looking at hours and hours and hours of beading!

Besides, for a belly dance student, you feel you've "arrived" when you buy your first authentic Egyptian bedleh.

Then it arrives, and the bra doesn't fit.

Before you pack it up and return it, be aware that most Egyptian belly dance bras don't fit. We're so used to our modern, scientifically engineered lingerie bras that it's a shock to put on a traditional one. So don't be in a hurry to send it back. First, do some testing to see just how bad it really is.

How To Fix a Bra That's Too Big

If the bra is too big, it's fairly easy to work out whether you can make it fit - because the only thing you can't change is the cup size.  Professional belly dance bras are usually generously padded to begin with, so if you're not filling out the cups, it's unlikely they can take more padding and still look good.

Before you send it back, though, do a simple test to make sure that's really the problem.

The Belly Dance Bra Fit Test

It's much easier to work this out if you have a friend to help, whom you don't mind being bra-less with!  You'll also need something to fasten things temporarily:  I use binder clips (bulldog clips in the UK)!

  • Put the bra on but don't fasten it.
  • Hold the bra by the cups and play around with them to see if you can get them sitting in the right place.
  • If you can't get them sitting nicely, the bra will never fit. Sorry!  But if you can, then all you need do is shorten other pieces to hold them in the right place - either the straps, or the band at the back, or the join between the cups at the front, or all three.  

How to Make the Bra Smaller

  • Don't assume you know which bit to shorten - often the obvious solution isn't the best one.
  • Check the join at the front of the bra - is it sitting flat or has it wrinkled up?
  • This is where your friend comes in.  While you're still holding the cups in the right place, ask her to clip the join at the front to the right length.  Next she should pull the band comfortably tight and clip that in place.  Lastly, do the same for the straps.
  • Now you can let go and see how the bra looks and feels.  If you're happy with it, ask your friend to mark where the join, straps and back need shortening, and you're done!
Badly adjusted bra
Badly adjusted bra

How to Fix a Bra that's too Small

It's more difficult to fix a bra that's too small, and it may not even be possible - so before you start making alterations, you need to carefully assess what needs to be done.  You don't want to start cutting into it until you're sure you can make it work.

Don't assume you know what needs adjusting just by trying it on.  A bra is a complicated thing, and small changes can have unexpected consequences.  For instance, the dancer on the right felt her new bra sat too low, but it was hard to do up at the back.  So she added an extender at the back, and shortened the shoulder straps.  The result is that she's falling out underneath!

Identifying the problem

Once again, the cup is the place to start - and if you're lucky, you'll be able to improve the fit dramatically with one easy step.  Middle Eastern belly dance bras are often full of shapeless padding - which doesn't leave you much room if you're shapely.  Solution?  Get rid of it!

Before you reach for the scissors, though, get one of your own bras and compare them side by side.   Look at the shell of the cup.  How does it compare to the outside contour of your ordinary bra?  If the shell is flatter, you won't be able to make it fit even without all that cotton wadding!  If the curve and size of the outer shell are similar, you've got a chance.

This is where you have to decide whether to take a risk.  Before you can adjust anything else, you'll have to remove the padding to test the fit on the breasts - and that means you won't be able to send it back!

Removing the padding is easy - the lot can usually be pulled out through a small cut in the inner lining.  Some people remove it bit by bit, in case they'd like to keep some of the "push up" effect - but I find that gets impossibly fiddly. Besides, proper "chicken fillets" are far more effective and are easy to buy, if you decide you need them later.

Other adjustments

Now you need to work out what else needs fixing. 

Don't put the bra on - hold it by the cups and play around with them, one at a time, to see where they need to be to sit nicely.

  1. Can you get both cups in position at the same time?  If you can, move on to the next step.  If not, the center join between them is too short.  Cut it, and replace it with a longer piece (you can often make one from an wristband or headband). 
  2. Try putting the bra on without the shoulder straps.  Can you do it up at the back?   If not, you need to add an extender (note - if you need to make the center join longer in step 1, do that first and check it again, because it will affect the result of this test).
  3. Once the center join and back fastening work, you can try the shoulder straps.  If you've completed the other two steps, it will be obvious what you need to do.  If you need to make them a lot longer, it may be easier to cut them off and replace them with a halter neck made of lycra.
Straps replaced with lycra halter
Straps replaced with lycra halter
Updated: 08/05/2014, Marisawright
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