70s bra consttruction

Greek Bonfire

Well-known member
I had a couple of "older costumes" and I swear they must've had steel in there somewhere because they were so durable.


Active member
I've found that when sewing tough items (or trying to string beads with poor quality-controlled holes), a non-toothed jewelry pliers (flat, round nose, etc.) works a little better than a regular, toothed pliers. You can try to align your needle parallel to the teeth of the pliers if toothed is all you have, but digging the teeth into the needle just chews up the body of the needle, making its surface rough and your job harder than it needs to be. If you do a lot of jewelry making and happen to have pliers with nylon tips, they'll work here, too (although this may speed up the deterioration of the tips). If you need to work without a pliers, you can also help the situation along with those little finger grips quilters use, or even a rubber glove.

Part of the trick is finding the right needle. You can't use anything too fragile or flexible, but if you're beading, you can't use anything too thick. Obviously, if you're wrestling with and stressing a needle by pushing it through dense layers, it increases the risk the needle will snap. You don't want the cheapest needles, but it's also not worth buying the most expensive ones, either.

If you need magnification, own it and get a workbench magnifier, hand-sewing lens that hangs around your neck, or glasses to put something between your eyes and your work. This is not a time to stick your face right up into your sewing and risk getting a sharp piece of metal flying at your eyeball if the needle breaks.

Finally, thread conditioner or beeswax helps reduce your frustration. Sewing through tough fabric is challenging enough without wrestling with the thread tangling up on itself, too.

Oh, and I thought about this after I posted the other day about washing costumes Some stiffeners are starched and not rigid by nature. Depending on the buckram (or similar product), washing may leave your work much softer and floppier than it was. This may or may not be a problem, but if you were counting on a wide belt that would not roll on itself or decorative rigid shaping of pointy bits, you or the future owner may have to reverse engineer the stabilization after a bath.


Finally, thread conditioner or beeswax helps reduce your frustration.

This, absolutely.

# 10 quilting needles are fine enough for most beads except the smallest seeds and strong enough to go through several layers of fabric. Pain in the neck to thread without a needle threader for those of us with less than perfect eyesight, but needle threaders are reasonably inexpensive- or were, prior to the latest upsurge in prices of everything. When I was beading costumes, I didn't use the smaller glass beads, so could usually use a fairly sturdy needle. Truly hated the long, thin needles sold as "beading needles." I swear, they bent by themselves in the package before human fingers touched them.

I am so hard on needles. No idea how many I have bent between my fingers over the years. When I embroider, it looks like I'm using a teeny one of those curved upholstery needles. I'm not quite the needle snob that some of my sister embroiderers are, but there are brands that are nicer and more usable than others. Many of the cheaper brands tend to have burrs that make threading and/or stitching a misery. Several years ago, I wrote an article on ethnic embroidery for Threads magazine and stitched a special project for the article. Threads bought the materials. I asked for a particular sort of needle, and goddess bless the editors, they bought me several packages of a size and type that is hard to obtain. I have guarded those needles as carefully as the beefeaters ever guarded the Tower of London. ;)