Off the Rack ~ Longline Bra reviews: Passionata Bloom & Claudette Dessous

The last time I wrote about a longline bra was the unsuccessful Freya Piper nearly two years ago. Though that one didn’t work out, I’ve since been on the hunt for a better longline. I really love the way they look, and I very much appreciate how well a longline band stays in place. You can sister size up one, if not two, bands and it still won’t ride up since it’s so wide. This is great for me, because there are a lot more 30 and 32 band longlines out there than there are 28s.

This week I’m reviewing the Passionata Bloom longline and the Claudette Dessous longline. Disclosure: The Claudette was purchased with my own money, but the Passionata bra was received as a review sample. All opinions are my own and based entirely on my experience.

First a thank you to both Bare Necessities and Passionata for getting the Bloom to me. BN was out of only my size in this bra, so I emailed them to ask if it was a size they simply didn’t offer, or if it was sold out, would they be getting more? The answer was yes, it’s a size they offer, but it was in fact sold out. But they offered to contact the manufacturer to get me one to review. Then when Darlene and I toured the Passionata/Chantelle showroom, they mentioned that it was on its way, and later even followed up once it shipped. So thanks to both companies, because I definitely need this gorgeous bra in my life!

So here is an aaaaaadorable overall photo of Bloom:

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And a clearer manufacturer’s photo of a bustier model:

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On the Passionata website, Bloom is listed as a longline, but on most sites that sell it, it’s listed as a demi. I would argue that it’s somewhere in between. The band is only a fraction longer than usual in front, but is significantly longer than average in back, with five rows of hooks and eyes (and four columns!). So it looks pretty standard from the front, but comes up high in back.

This bra is offered in 30 bands, but it stops at G cup (French, so the equivalent of UK F) instead of H (UK FF), so I had to sister size twice from UK 28G to 32F (i.e. I got the listed size of French 32G). As I’m wearing it on the tightest setting, a 30 definitely would have been ideal, but as I stated above, the width still keeps it from riding up, and the gore even tacks (though less firmly than it would in a tighter band).

So here are some detail shots:

The inside of the bra.

The inside of the bra.

Of course I have to make note of the teeny tiny bow on the care tag. Such a cute detail!

Of course I have to make note of the teeny tiny bow on the care tag. Such a cute detail!

A closeup of the ever-so-slightly longer than usual band from the inside.

A closeup of the ever-so-slightly longer than usual band from the inside.

The many hooks and eyes make me wish all bras had four columns.

The many hooks and eyes make me wish all bras had four columns.

And finally, the amaaaaazing bright colors.

And finally, the amaaaaazing bright colors.

As for fit, I find it to be really comfortable and have a nice shape. The cups seem deeper at the base than my molded Starlight bra was, which is great for me. The wires are sufficiently close together at the gore for my relatively close-set breasts, and as I mentioned above, the gore tacks well despite the technically-too-big band.

The cups are made up of two layers—a super sheer mesh balconnet shape underneath triangular stretch lace side slings that meet the straps. The layers are attached along a single vertical seam over the nipple, so the lace doesn’t flap around like the Figleaves Paige and Lulu Tout Amelie.

Finally, a feature I really like is the ultra-soft and ultra-wide neon pink elastic at the top of the band. It is so comfortable. It’s also used as the waistband for the matching panties, but I really wish Passionata would use it on the bottom of a bra band too.

Here are some detail shots of the bra on me:

A closeup of the “long” line.

A closeup of the “long” line.

The back, with its wonderful pink elastic trim.

The back, with its wonderful pink elastic trim.

The bra under a camisole.

The bra under a camisole.

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Now, I do have two minor complaints. First, I kind of wish the band was longer in front. This short length tends to bunch up. Although unlike Freya’s Piper, the short band means there’s less fabric to scrunch up and it’s not painful—but it’s a bit annoying. Here’s a comparison of when I first put it on, and then after a bunch of movement:

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The second complaint is that although I like the look of the tall back, the extra height means that the cups come up rather high under the arm, and have a tendency to rub my armpit:

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Thankfully, the fabric is soft enough that again it doesn’t hurt, but again it’s a minor annoyance. In the end, though, I would definitely buy this bra again. It’s just so beautiful! I wish I could wear it as a shirt.

The next bra I’ll discuss is the Claudette Dessous longline, which I bought on flash sale site Zulily.com. I have a few Dessous bras, each bought from a different season, and they all fit or feel slightly different. The neon green one from their very first collection is shallow, small in the cup, big in the band, and the fabric is quite stiff. The orange with pink trim, from the successive season, fits closer to true to size, and is still stiff. The camouflage with neon lime trim from Spring 2013 is very much true to size and the fabric is softer. And finally, the “concrete and hot coral” longline I’ve got here is the softest fabric yet!

My first Dessous was 30G (UK) since they didn’t offer 28 bands at the time. And since the cups ran small, I stuck with 30G even once they started offering 28 because they topped out at G. At the moment, I’m in between 28G and GG anyhow, so I figured a slightly too big cup would be better than slightly too small. My camouflage Dessous is quite large in the cups, enough that I could probably have gotten away with a 28G, but the longline 30G is definitely correct in the cups.

All this sizing inconsistency makes it really hard to guess at your size when ordering from a non-refundable source like Zulily or the Claudette Encore sale section (for discontinued leftovers from past seasons), but I would say the longline fits true to size in the band and one size small in the cups.

Let’s get to some photos now, shall we?

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The manufacturer photo looks more coral, but the pink trim is definitively neon pink in real life:

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The inside of the bra.

The inside of the bra.

A closeup of the boning below the underwire.

A closeup of the boning below the underwire.

Four rows and again four columns of hooks and eyes.

Four rows and again four columns of hooks and eyes.

As for the rest of fit, the cups are only the tiniest bit shallow on my full-on-bottom boobs. The boning makes the band come to a slight point where it’s attached:

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I’m wearing the band on the tightest setting since it’s a 30, but again it’s well anchored due to the width:

Check out that hot pink band!

Check out that hot pink band!

And the wires don’t come up too high on the sides, so there’s no rubbing:

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Again I have to reiterate how freaking soft the fabric is. This bra is so light and airy! It’s just perfect for summer. And the shape is quite round yet still natural looking:

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Note, however, that the horizontal seam does dig in a smidge and give a bit of a lumpy profile—I would guess as a side effect of the mesh being so soft and thin:

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After all this gushing about comfort and softness, though, I do have one big complaint. Once again the extended band is not long enough to stay down. The boning helps, but it’s still not long enough. In fact, when I wore this bra on a particularly active day, the boning actually curled into a C-shape (imagine the left side of the C being up against my ribs) and became very uncomfortable. I kept reaching up my shirt to try and fix it, but it wasn’t until I took the bra off that I realized how much it had bent. I easily bent the boning back to straight, but I certainly don’t expect it to stay that way.

Since the boning is my only complaint and I’m completely enamored with the fabric, I’ll definitely buy more Dessous bras in the future, but I’ll stick with the regular ones and skip the longlines.

 

Off the Rack ~ A Review of the J. Crew “Sophie” Bridesmaid Dress

For the third week in a row, I’m talking about weddings! But this time, I’ll be a bridesmaid instead of the bride, for my younger sister’s July wedding in Massachusetts. Both she and I went straight for J. Crew when we were looking for bridesmaid dresses because they offer multiple cuts in the same fabrics. I ultimately went with David’s Bridal because I wasn’t crazy about J. Crew’s colors at the time, and David’s was cheaper and had more cuts to choose from.

But my sister’s style errs on the preppy side, and J. Crew is totally her style, so when they offered a 25% off deal, she went for it (and there was another 25% off coupon this past week, so if you’re interested in these dresses, definitely sign up for the mailing list!).

The two dresses she offered the maids were the strapless, sweetheart neckline Marlie or the deep-V Sophie, in sea spray faille. They’re the exact same silhouette aside from the straps.

The Sophie.

The Sophie.

Sophie on the model.

Sophie on the model.

Sophie in profile.

Sophie in profile.

Since I never shop at J. Crew, and it takes months to get an appointment in their bridal shops, I went by the size chart and ordered online. Unfortunately, the size chart turned out to be completely incorrect. At 37”-29”-41”, I’m between their size 8 (36.5” bust and 29” waist) and 10 (37.5” bust and 30” waist). I ordered the 8, but when it arrived, I was completely swimming in it. It was just hanging off me and I could make a fist out of all the extra fabric:

Apologies for the terrible phone selfie.

Apologies for the terrible phone selfie.

Next I went to a J. Crew store to re-order it. I was hoping to just look at a smaller size on the floor to figure out if I needed a 4 or a 6, but they wouldn’t even let me in the bridal suite without an appointment. I asked if there was someone working who could advise me on sizing, and the cashier said the only people who know anything about the bridal merchandise are the bridal consultants and they were all busy.

I even tried just asking the cashier if he could advise on J. Crew’s normal dress sizes, explaining that I had technically sized slightly down with the 8 based on the chart, and it was humongous. But he didn’t know anything either! This was really aggravating. I ended up just going with the 4 and figuring I could come back and exchange it again if necessary. Two dress exchanges would literally take less time than the wait for a bridal appointment.

A few days later, the 4 arrived and it was a big improvement…but to be honest this is not a boob-friendly dress, and after trying it on again this week I don’t think it’s very flattering on me overall. It’s pretty obvious that it was designed with a straighter figure in mind, but I don’t think I could have sized up and gotten it tailored because the arm-holes are already too big and showing off my bra.

First up, the measurement discrepancies: Size 4 is supposed to fit a 34.5” bust and 27” waist, but when laid flat the waist actually measures 15.5” for a total of 31”. As for the bust, it does have three-dimensional cups, so if I allow my measuring tape to follow the boob curve while the dress is laid out, it’s about 19”, and measuring flat across the back is 17”, for a total of 36”.

So overall, the size 4 is an inch and a half bigger in the bust and four inches bigger in the waist. What the hell is J. Crew thinking?? Not only are the measurements off significantly, but the bust-to-waist ratio is also wildly off. The listed measurements have a difference of 7.5 inches (and this applies to most of the sizes), but the actual garment has a difference of only 5 inches.

Here are photos of the dress on me:

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As you can see, it fits okay, but as usual the dress is not curving under my bust. Additionally, it’s a bit small in the bust, just enough to squish my boobs together and make some cleavage. I don’t particularly mind this, but it’s something to keep in mind if you need to look conservative.

I thought the dress would look cuter if I belted it, and my sister wants me to wear a sash or something anyway, to differentiate myself as the maid of honor, so I got a couple different wide ribbons to try out. The one I like best is a 2.5-inch wide slightly stiff grosgrain. It really helps define my waist better, and to lower the waist to where mine is actually located (my long torso strikes again!).

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Unfortunately, though, the poof of the skirt in front, the shape of my tummy, and the slippery fabric of both the dress and the ribbon mean that it instantly slides up to a very unflattering position and basically outlines the roundness of my belly:

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From the side, it practically looks like a maternity dress:

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So what’s the solution? I’m hoping I can figure out some non-permanent way to make the ribbon stay in place in front. I might have to just sew a tiny stitch right in the center of my tummy and then remove it later.

Aside from all the negative comments about fit, there are some positives. The quality is really lovely. The fabric is heavy and feels nice, and the garment is fully lined. It also has pockets! And these pockets are actually big enough to hold a good amount of stuff, but thanks to the full, stiff skirt, you can’t see whatever’s in them. So I’ll be able to slip lipstick, a compact mirror, cash, and ID in the pockets, at minimum. Maybe my digital camera too . . . .

One other excellent design feature is that the straps have little loops to hold your bra straps in place. Why don’t all dresses have this??

Open.

Closed.

Closed.

I do have to note, however, that the loops are under an inch wide, so if you wear GG+ bras (which tend to have thicker straps), these may not work for you.

Overall impression: The dress is nice, but J. Crew really needs to sort out its sizing issues. And this design is definitely not what I would describe as “boob-friendly.”

 

Off the Rack ~ Celebration Solutions: Wedding Dress Alterations

Continuing our month of celebration dressing, this week will be my final bridal post. This time, I’ll go over the alterations to the wedding dress’s bodice, and what I would tell a seamstress next time.

Here are all the previous bridal posts:

Leah’s Happy Swimsuit Memory
Wedding Dress Shopping Part I
Wedding Dress Shopping Part II: David’s Bridal
Wedding Lingerie Shopping: Masquerade Hestia Basque
Hestia Bustier Revisited (and Wedding Dresses!)
Le Mystere Soiree Low-Back Bustier Reviewed
Wedding Dress Shopping Part III: Alterations
Celebration Solutions: Altering Molded Bra Cups

As for today’s post, here is how the bodice looked before alterations. For an extra fee, the dress came with increased cups (volume-wise) and a one-inch higher neckline:

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When I brought it to the seamstress, I was wearing a baggy sweater and her immediate thought before she saw it on me was that the cups were too big. I insisted they were not, and told her I paid extra to have them bigger. Once it was on, I’m pretty sure she got the idea.

She still needed to alter the cups slightly, though. They were a bit pointy in the outer corners and needed to be made rounder, and the waistband needed to be taken in at its base, like so:

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When it was all done, it fit perfectly. The seamstress really knew what she was doing, and it didn’t require a second fitting or more work. Buuuut…in looking at my photos, I can see that the bodice did not stay quite so perfect throughout the day.

Here’s how it looked when I first put it on:

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Perfect décolletage! I’m totally filling out the cups and there’s just a hint of cleavage.

Here’s a shot during the ceremony, where you can see it mushing into my armpits a bit when my arms are at my sides:

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But a side view during the ceremony looks great! The point is, my boobs are where they should be.

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However, once I sat down to dinner, and then repeatedly got back up to hug people, and back down to eat, and up to mingle, and back down to drink…my boobs started having a containment issue:

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I didn’t even notice it was happening at the time, which I guess speaks to the comfort of the dress. But by the time dancing rolled around, I was seriously quad-boobing:

Please enjoy this super charming shot of me with crazy face and a beer bottle. So classy, this one!

Please enjoy this super charming shot of me with crazy face and a beer bottle. So classy, this one!

Again, I didn’t really notice it while it was happening, but I would really prefer if my mashed up cleavage wasn’t memorialized forever in my wedding photos.

So here’s what I’ll do if I ever have to get a structured sweetheart neckline altered ever again:

  1. Right off the bat, I will tell the seamstress that I have a hard time fitting my boobs into off-the-rack clothing. I want her to know this is a serious concern before we even start.
  2. I will bring these photos with me, to show her exactly what I don’t want happening over the course of the dress’s wearing.
  3. I will specifically ask if she can keep the cups more open and less flush with my chest even though it looks better that way when I first put it on. I’ll jump around a bunch if I have to, to get my boobs flying around so she can work with them in person.

And finally, with all these awkward faces, here are a couple nice photo of my complete outfit, as a little palate-cleanser (click to view full size):

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Off the Rack ~ Celebration Solutions: Altering Molded Bra Cups

For Hourglassy’s month of posts on “celebration dressing,” I’m starting with my big celebration—my wedding last year!

If you want to read the whole saga of the dress and the lingerie hunt, here are all the links. If you just want to see how I altered my undergarments, scroll down.

Leah’s Happy Swimsuit Memory
Wedding Dress Shopping Part I
Wedding Dress Shopping Part II: David’s Bridal
Wedding Lingerie Shopping: Masquerade Hestia Basque
Hestia Bustier Revisited (and Wedding Dresses!)
Le Mystere Soiree Low-Back Bustier Reviewed
Wedding Dress Shopping Part III: Alterations

I last left off having dropped the dress off at the seamstress to have the waist taken in and the bust cups shaped a bit. I also left my Le Mystere Soiree Bustier with the seamstress, so they could take it into account with the cup shaping.

When I picked up the dress, it was perfect! The cups were a little more rounded at the top (instead of having pointy-ish outer corners) and the waist was cinching me in and staying up without feeling at all uncomfortable. However, a tiny bit of the bustier was still peeking out if I moved too much. Since I doubted I’d find anything better, I decided to just trim down the gore and the inner cup. Here is how I did it…

Here’s the bustier as it started:

The rest of this post will be photos with instructions in the caption. Apologies for all the different lighting, as it was done over several different days at different times. Everything here was sewn by hand.

First I used a seam ripper to pick out the seam holding the upper cup trim in place. Don’t cut off the excess trim, as you’ll be re-attaching it later.

First I used a seam ripper to pick out the seam holding the upper cup trim in place. Don’t cut it off, as you’ll be re-attaching it later.

Next I removed the fabric from the outside of the gore, again leaving it hanging.

Next I removed the fabric from the outside of the gore, again leaving it hanging.

Back to the inside of the bra, I removed the seam holding the underwire channels in place.

Back to the inside of the bra, I removed the seam holding the underwire channels in place.

Now that everything was taken apart (but not completely removed from the bra), I marked where I planned to cut the foam with white chalk.

Now that everything was taken apart (but not completely removed from the bra), I marked where I planned to cut the foam with white chalk.

After I carefully cut off the excess foam.

After I carefully cut off the excess foam.

Next, I sewed a baste stitch along the cup edge to hold the outer fabric in place. I went up one side and then back in the opposite direction.

Next, I sewed a baste stitch along the cup edge to hold the outer fabric in place. I went up one side and then back in the opposite direction.

Then I laid the trim back onto the cup edge, pinned in place, and baste-stitched it back on, again going up one side and then back in the opposite direction.

Then I laid the trim back onto the cup edge, pinned in place, and baste-stitched it back on, again going up one side and then back in the opposite direction.

Finally, I un-sewed part of the underwire channels so I could cut down the wires.

Finally, I un-sewed part of the underwire channels so I could cut down the wires.

On to the hard part—cutting the underwires. These things were impossible! I own a pair of sheet metal snips, but they barely made a scratch. Luckily, my father-in-law has a hacksaw and clamp, so the next time I was at his house I held the bra in place with the clamp and sawed the excess wire off. I’ve also read that you can use bolt cutters. Who knew underwires were so strong??

On to the hard part—cutting the underwires. These things were impossible! I own a pair of sheet metal snips, but they barely made a scratch. Luckily, my father-in-law has a hacksaw and clamp, so the next time I was at his house I held the bra in place with the clamp and sawed the excess wire off. I’ve also read that you can use bolt cutters. Who knew underwires were so strong??

A close-up of the freshly cut wire. Those dainty little scratches are all the damage my sheet metal snips could do.

A close-up of the freshly cut wire. Those dainty little scratches are all the damage my sheet metal snips could do.

Next up was coating the wires so they couldn’t stab back through the fabric later. I considered just dipping them in hot glue, but was advised that that might not be good enough and the glue could easily pop off since the metal is non-porous. Instead, I got heat-shrink tubing. It comes in a variety of sizes and colors, and shrinks down to half its size. I bought 3/16” tubing.

First I tested it on two toothpicks put together with actual flame (left, which you’ll notice is coated in foil so as not to set the wood toothpicks on fire) and a hairdryer on the hottest setting (right).

First I tested it on two toothpicks put together with actual flame (left, which you’ll notice is coated in foil so as not to set the wood toothpicks on fire) and a hairdryer on the hottest setting (right).

Flame on top, hairdryer on bottom. The actual flame seemed to burn the plastic a little, while the hairdryer was hot enough to fully shrink it while maintaining a nice smoothness.

Flame on top, hairdryer on bottom. The actual flame seemed to burn the plastic a little, while the hairdryer was hot enough to fully shrink it while maintaining a nice smoothness.

A comparison of the tip with hairdryer (left) and flame (right). I also figured it was safer to use the hairdryer, since there’d be no threat of me accidentally burning the bra fabric.

A comparison of the tip with hairdryer (left) and flame (right). In addition to the better smoothness, I figured the hairdryer was safer, since there’d be no threat of me accidentally burning the bra fabric.

Since there was a little bit of excess plastic at the top of the toothpicks, I folded it over and mushed it down while it was still hot, and then blasted it with the hairdryer again to set it.

Since there was a little bit of excess plastic at the top of the toothpicks, I folded it over and mushed it down while it was still hot, and then blasted it with the hairdryer again to set it.

The topside of the mushed up tip.

The topside of the mushed up tip.

The wire with finished heat shrink on it before I completely mushed the tip down. You’ll notice the tubing is a little wider than the wire, but the next size down at the store from which I bought (3/32”) looked too small. So if you can find a size in between (i.e. 1/8”), that’d probably be your best bet.

The wire with finished heat shrink on it before I completely mushed the tip down. You’ll notice the tubing is a little wider than the wire, but the next size down at the store (3/32″) looked too small. So if you can find a size in between (i.e. 1/8”), that’d probably be your best bet.

A comparison of the original tubing (left) and the shrunk tubing (right).

A comparison of the original tubing (left) and the shrunk tubing (right).

The finished shrink tubing on both wires, successfully folded and mushed.

The finished shrink tubing on both wires, successfully folded and mushed.

Back to sewing!

The next step is to put the wires back into their channels and sew the channel shut all around the wire, including at the top. I went back and forth over the top a few times to make sure it was super strong and the wire couldn’t break out.

The next step is to put the wires back into their channels and sew the channel shut all around the wire, including at the top. I went back and forth over the top a few times to make sure it was super strong and the wire couldn’t break out.

Then you can snip off the excess wire channel above where the wire stops.

Then you can snip off the excess wire channel above where the wire stops.

Next, sew the wire channel back to the cup exactly where it was previously attached. This is the view from the outer side of the bra. You can see that the wire channel goes past the edge of the cup a little, but that’s no big deal.

Next, sew the wire channel back to the cup exactly where it was previously attached. This is the view from the outer side of the bra. You can see that the wire channel goes past the edge of the cup a little, but that’s no big deal.

The view of the now reattached wire channel from the inside of the bra. You’ll notice it’s only attached to the cup at the point, and the gore fabric is still flopping around.

The view of the now reattached wire channel from the inside of the bra. You’ll notice it’s only attached to the cup at this point, and the gore fabric is still flopping around.

After reattaching both wire channels to the cups, next trim off excess gore fabric and sew it to the wire channels. This is the view from the outer side.

After reattaching both wire channels to the cups, next trim off excess gore fabric and sew it to the wire channels. This is the view from the outer side.

You can see here that I left the gore fabric raw and just folded it over behind the wire channel. I was too lazy to finish the gore fabric’s edge and there were already so many layers of fabric there that it would have been difficult to sew—I was already using a metal thimble to push the needle through because my cushy fingertips couldn’t handle it! Additionally, because I trimmed down so much of the cup foam, the old cup trim didn’t actually reach all the way to the gore any more. So to keep the edges from unraveling, I sewed an overstitch all along the raw cup edge.

You can see here that I left the gore fabric raw and just folded it over behind the wire channel. I was too lazy to finish the gore fabric’s edge and there were already so many layers of fabric there that it would have been difficult to sew—I was already using a metal thimble to push the needle through because my fingertips couldn’t handle it! Additionally, because I trimmed down so much of the cup foam, the old cup trim didn’t actually reach all the way to the gore any more. So to keep the edges from unraveling, I sewed an overstitch all along the raw cup edge.

DONE! The finished product was never visible on my wedding day, even after hiking down a mountain for good photos and dancing for two hours straight! Here are some final photos:

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Next week: Lessons I learned from my dress’s tailoring, and what I’ll tell the seamstress next time I need a sweetheart neckline altered.