Here’s the final result of the alterations I described yesterday–except my seamstress went the extra mile and not only hid the side of my bra, she changed the straps as well. I thought I would finally have to break down and buy a strapless this summer (and it was going to be the Wacoal Red Carpet if I did*), but it looks like I’m off the hook for another year.

(*This is an affiliate link, but I seriously understand why people love this bra, and I’m going to do a quick mini-review of it soon.)

My first time wearing it, waiting for the train to a 6-year-old’s dance recital.
Yes, sometimes you can still see my bra straps, but not all the time.
Closeup of the changes while waiting for a bus to the dance recital!

I’m going to walk you through what we almost and actually did. Unfortunately there’s no step-by-step tutorial because my seamstress sewed everything when I wasn’t around to take pictures. But if you already know how to sew, I’m pretty sure you can figure it out. And if you don’t know how to sew, your seamstress can figure it out like mine did!

This was our first idea. She simply cut out a rectangle piece of fabric and pinned it where we wanted it.
Next she traced the edge with a chalk pencil.
This is the original scrap of fabric that she tucked under my arm and inside the dress. You can barely make out the chalk line of the new pattern piece. Note that she wouldn’t cut exactly along this line because she also needed to add a seam allowance.
Here’s our second iteration.
And here’s our final choice. See how it’s going to give a base for the new strap to cover my bra strap??? After tracing the outline again, she re-safety-pinned the scrap in place so that it wouldn’t move when I took the dress off.
When I picked it up the following week, she had me try it on before pinning the straps in back. Then she sewed them to the dress.
She left it long and added a second seam to secure it in case I decided I wanted to make it longer later. Note: she also used interfacing inside the straps so that they’d keep their shape.
This is a view from the inside.
Here’s a closeup of the inside view from the left front, i.e., where the strap and new pattern piece meet in front.
Here’s a closeup of the inside view from the left sidet, i.e., where the new pattern piece meets just before the back smocking.

I’ve worn this dress several times now and plan to enjoy it for the rest of the summer. It’s so easy to wear! However, our solution isn’t perfect–mostly because adding so much fabric to the sides seems to have resulted in a wider bodice. This means

  1. The neckline doesn’t lay taut across my chest. Instead, it’s slightly cowl-like.
  2. The straps needed to be placed wide enough apart to cover my bra straps, but I find they tend to slip off my shoulders quite a bit. I shortened them with a safety pin the last time I wore this dress, and that seemed to help. Crossing them in back could be another solution, but then I’d have to wear a bra with a J-hook or a strapless.
  3. The piece of fabric that we put in the side does not lay smooth. You can see what I mean in the second photo below. It’s almost like it needs an armhole dart, but pinching out the excess fabric made it weird. Perhaps it needs to be two pieces instead of one so that it can be shaped via a seam.
Even the smocking is a little looser in back. Next time I might start with a size S to allow for the increase in width.

As far as the quality of this Old Navy dress, I accidentally put it in the dryer the other day. It didn’t shrink, but the colors faded a bit. However, for $22 for the dress and $20 for the alterations, I’m super happy with this sundress that’s so bust-friendly I can wear it with a regular bra.

Looking for other bra-hiding armholes for women with fuller busts? Here are two posts that Leila from Curvy Custom Bride wrote on the subject: