Tip: Reinforce Heavy Coin Bra

I just bought a coin costume – really heavy authentic currency.
I bought a new push-up bra and covered it in fabric (thanks for those tips too!) and sewed the bra cover on. The whole bra has stretched a bit, due to the weight of the coins, so I hiked up the straps.
The problem I’m still having is this: the weight of the coins is pulling the cups open (especially during undulations). I’d prefer to keep my shows family oriented! Is there any kind of “surgery” or add-on I can do to the cups without having to start over again?

ANSWER:bra_reinforce
The illustration, showing the inside of the bra, shows how I reinforced the bra I used as a base for a heavy chain-and-coin cover. It’s from Book #5, Tribal Vibes for Bellydancers.

I hand-sewed dress boning along the top edge and center of each cup. Boning is narrow, stiff yet bendable material, sold by the yard in fabric stores. (Long ago, it was actually made out of whalebones to stiffen corsetry.)
Now the bra cup can’t sag or bend.
It’s much easier to do this BEFORE adding a coin cover, but I think you can manage it while the bra is already attached.

PLASTIC BONING vs. FIBROUS BONING

  1. If you use the type of boning that consists of a plastic strip inside a cotton casing, pull out the plastic first. Hand-sew the casing inside the cups, leaving one end open. Then insert the plastic and close the end. Sew the casing along its edges only, so the inside is open for the plastic to fit into.
    I fold the ends of the casing, sew them very securely, and cover them with an extra strip of twill tape to make sure the boning doesn’t works its way through and poke your flesh. I also trim the ends of the plastic into a rounded shape (rather than a square with sharp corners), so it won’t make a hole in the fabric, over time.
    If the casing is put in BEFORE you cover the bra, you can sew through all layers of the bra, which is easier than sewing into the lining only. Insert the plastic and secure the ends of the casing only after the bra cover is sewn on. That way, it’s easier to sew the bra cover to the cups, because they are more flexible before the boning is inserted.
  2. If you use the fibrous sew-through type of boning without a casing, this is harder to sew directly into a bra because of the stiffness, but there’s no chance of it working its way out of a cotton casing.
    It’s even more important to round the corners and cover the edges well, otherwise those fibrous cut edges will be sharp.

HARD SHELL CUPS: Some costumers use the classic hard-shell bra cups to line the bra. But these are not as easy to find as boning – AND they must be exactly the right size, while boning can be cut to fit any size cup.

SECOND STRAP: The straps, of course, need to be well reinforced to support the extra weight. A second strap, as shown, helps distribute the weight and and support the cup. It could connect to the main strap as shown, or be parallel to it. Use a sturdy grosgrain ribbon, twill tape, or strip of interfacing and cover straps with fabric, trim or coins to match the rest of the bra.

I use felt to line the back neck strap of a heavy bra, so it’s more comfortable.

~ Dina Lydia, Costume Goddess