I had the opportunity to try a belted pad, and while I thought the shape and fit were good, one thing it seemed to me was that it needed elastic to not only make it more underwear-like and snug fitting, but because I found having to undo a hook and eye everytime I wanted to go to the toilet was a bit tedious.
I was discussing this with the pad maker, and we were discussing the use of reclaimed materials. So then I had the thought of using an old bra for the elastic straps to form the side straps of a belted pad holder, since they are not only elastic but have adjusters to lengthen and shorten the strap. Which means that this idea could be made into pad belts to donate, and it can adjust to fit different sized women.
I had an old maternity bra that no longer fit, so I decided to have a go making one up (without really planning it – amazingly I think it worked!), and I found that with the right bra, it is possible to make a belted pad holder with only 1 bra and nothing else!
Now this mannequin is *very* small (almost child size really), but you get the idea
This does leave some fairly unsightly seams however, so if you want something a little prettier, you might like to use the bra for it’s straps only, and make the centre part out of something else, but using the bra has the advantage of everything already having elastic in it. Essentially what we are going to be doing is using the bra straps to go around the waist/hip. The cups are cut and sewn together to become the back (where your bottom goes), and the meshy part that goes around your chest becomes the part that goes between your legs. So everything is elasticised and seems to fit nice and snug, like underpants.
Now.. I will say at this point I have tried the belt on, but not actually used it… so I’m only assuming this idea works as a functional pad belt… I can’t see why it wouldn’t work, but I take no responsibility if things don’t end up being as planned!
I used a non-underwire, E cup bra (That’s Australian sized, not sure what it is elsewhere)… you’d probably want something in these larger sizes as you have more fabric to play with. Your bra needs to have the elastic in good condition still. You’ll want something that looks like this… .where the elastic for the shoulder straps goes right from the front of the bra to the back closure – since that elastic strap is going to be the belt. A more rigid cup bra probably won’t work – these lacy ones are probably best. You can always remove underwires if your bra has them
Mine has an odd orange stain on it (henna?), so just ignore that…
When you get down to where the hook and eye part is, just cut through the centre of that, so your elastic strap has one hook/eye attached. This bra fabric shouldn’t fray, but you can hand sew around any raw edges to secure it if you like.
Assuming all went well, you’ll now have something that looks like this:
This bra I’m using has a piece of boning/stabilising where the lacy stuff meets the stretchy side stuff… I actually wanted to take advantage of that to use, to keep the pad belt from scrunching up at the front… but you can choose to not use that bit if your bra has it….
What you want to do now is cut halfway between where the cups end and that join between what is the front and the sizes of the bra.
Now you want to cut the cups more-or-less in half horizontally…. this will form the back (buttocks) part of your belt. What we’re doing here is using where the shoulder strap joins the cup as being the side of the pad belt…. so if you imagine you have one butt cheek in each half of your bra cups :D and the bit that normally goes around the chest will become the part that goes down between your legs.
That probably makes no sense, so just look at the photos :) It’ll become clearer as we go along.
As it happens, I cut mine on a wrong angle (too curved), so I ended up having to trim some off as I sewed it – the purple line shows where I should have cut it. But it’s always best to cut too big and trim down, as you can’t stick more on if you’ve cut too much off!
Now sew those 2 cup halves together to make one piece – adjusting to make it as flat as possible as you need to. You should end up with something starting to resemble the back of a pair of underpants. Now take the piece of bra-side that you cut off before and make sure your sewn together cup part is the same width as that cut off part… adjust your seam if necessary….
Because now you’re going to sew that cut off part back on…. yes, you’re sort of sewing it back onto where it was, but we had to cut it off so we could use the 2 cup halves.
Now… see how what was the side of the bra tapers off to where the hook/eye is (where you had unpicked the shoulder strap) – cut that off to a square edge (follow the purple line). You’ll want to keep those hooks/eyes, so don’t lose them. Do that on both pieces, and then sew those 2 freshly cut ends together.
So those boning sections are now one at the front end and one where the bracup bits join.
Hopefully you’ll now have something that looks like this! All that remains to do is to put the hook/eyes on the top edge – where you’d cut… and you’ll have your pad belt.
So (again, excuse the mysterious orange stain)… what you want to do is trim off the excess lacy stuff (you can hand sew to stop anything unravelling), and sew on the hook and eyes to the sides of that boning section. Make sure you do it the right way. You won’t need the adjustability of 2 eyes, so you can cut them down if you like.
In fact…. Since you have the adjustment and elastic from the bra straps, you could just sew the strap ends onto the front of the holder part… since you’ll probably not have to ever undo it, so you won’t need the hooks and eyes… (you can just take it on/off like underpants) but the option is yours.
You end up with some seams in the crotch area – but you’ll have pads covering those. I used an overlockler/serger, so the seams are quite prominent, but if you are sewing it on a sewing machine you could overlap the fabric and sew it down to make a flat seam (since this fabric shouldn’t fray)….