Alrighty, this tutorial has been a long time comin’! I’ve had many requests for a tutorial on how to move the straps on the Harriet. This adjustment can help improve your strap comfort if you have narrow or sloping shoulders, or if for any reason the straps feel too close to your underarm. Let’s get those straps moved inward!
But first let’s talk about bra strap positions in general…
The Harriet is designed to have a wider neckline. In full cup or triangle-style bras, straps can be quite centered over the breast. In bras with a demi/half cup or balconette neckline, straps are typically wider apart. Sometimes that helps create a certain silhouette, but sometimes this is just a natural consequence of the height of the cup:
(For more theory behind necklines and strap positions, see Is that Bra a Demi, Balconette or Full Cup?.)
Here are some examples of the Harriet’s cup seam style in ready-to-wear:
Obviously these are model bodies and the patterns behind the bras all slightly different, but they give you an idea of the various strap positions that are often found on this cup style.
When trying the strap alteration you don’t want to aim at centering the straps, which will change the fit in the cup and possibly create a funky cup shape that pushes down on your breasts. Instead aim at getting them to a comfy spot that doesn’t fall off or irritate the skin around your arm.
Onto the alteration!
Take your upper cup and outer cup piece and line them up at their seamlines. Draw a straight line following the neckline all the way through the strap:
It might help to remove the seam allowance from the upper cup to help with this. You can trace it back in later.
Along the line you drew, cut off the strap extension and slide it inward 1/4″ (6mm). Tape your pattern to a new sheet of paper and draw a new seamline (yellow line) and add the seam allowance:
If you feel like you need to move it in more, try up to 3/8″ (10mm) but no more than that until you’ve tested this. Small adjustments really add up in bra patterns! It’s all about little tweaks at a time.
Mark in 1/4″ (6mm) from the point of the neckline, and draw a new seamline with a smooth curve going all the way to the notch. Re-draw your new seam allowance.
This is just a “double check” step, but it helps to walk your pieces after adjustments to make sure notches and points match. Walk your upper cup piece from the notch toward the point, and put a dot or notch on your outer cup where the new “meeting point” will be.
What this adjustment changes
This adjustment moves the strap, but any time you move straps inward on a bra it changes the fit of the neckline. If you need to remove length from the neckline AND want to move the straps inward, I’d recommend trying this adjustment before taking out any length along the neckline.
The j hook
Lastly, I can’t leave this tutorial without talking about the clever invention of J hooks!
(J-hook on the famous Panache sports bra)
If you are one of those people for whom straps on any bra are always slipping, a J-hook and a corresponding plain ring can be sewn into each strap and connected together for a more controlled strap position. They’re also great for getting your bra straps to hide under racer back styles (if you are in the ‘hide the bra straps’ camp!). Many bra supply shops carry these–too many to list here, so check with your favorite stockist on my bra supplies page.
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