Undershirts for a spinal brace (spinal orthosis)

PDF download is not available for Arabic and Urdu languages at this time. Please use the browser print function instead

A spinal brace is worn over a cotton undershirt. Learn about making stockinette undershirts.

Key points

  • A spinal brace is worn over a cotton undershirt.
  • You can buy cotton undershirts or make your own from cotton stockinette.
  • You can also use undershirts or T-shirts made from other breathable fabrics.
Stockinette undershirt Woman wearing stockinette undershirt over bra and underpants
Cotton undershirts are worn under the orthosis, and over the bra and underpants. It should be long enough to come well below the orthosis. An undershirt made from cotton stockinette is shown here.

A spinal brace (spinal orthosis) is worn over a cotton undershirt. For girls, the brace is worn over the bra and a cotton undershirt. It is sometimes difficult to find seamless 100% cotton undershirts that are long and snug enough, so instructions on how to make your own are provided below.

Instructions for making stockinette undershirts

Stockinette is a seamless, stretchy, knitted fabric used for making undergarments to wear under braces. Its tubular shape is worn around the body. There are two ways to make undershirts from cotton stockinette:

  1. Cut a piece of stockinette to fit the length from your child’s shoulder to just above their knees. Starting 3½ inches from one end of the stockinette, cut two half-circle slits for the armholes (5 to 7 inches in diameter). The neck can be cut into a half-circle as well, just like a regular undershirt. The raw edges can be turned under and stitched, if desired.
  2. Cut a piece of stockinette to fit the length from your child’s shoulder to just above their knees. Sew a length of elastic around the opening at one end. When putting the brace on your child, pull the elastic end up high under their arms. Put on and do up the brace, then fold the extra stockinette down over the top of the brace.

Stockinette is 100% cotton and will shrink up to 15 cm (6 inches). Allow for this much shrinkage when cutting undershirts. Before cutting the whole stockinette roll into undershirts, cut 2 or 3 undershirts first and wash them. This will give you an idea of how much shrinkage to expect.

Washing instructions

Place stockinette undershirts in a mesh bag or pillow case for machine washing. Wash in lukewarm or cold water in the washing machine. Use mild, non-perfumed detergent. Do not use liquid fabric softener, as it clogs the spaces in between the fibres that wick away moisture. Use a cool tumble cycle in the dryer or hang to dry. Do not use bleach.

Moisture-wicking undershirts

There are also various readymade moisture-wicking garments that your child can wear under their brace. These seamless, breathable undershirts wick away moisture from the body and keep your child cool. Breathable sports T-shirts are also an option. If they have seams, you may try turning them inside out. Although many moisture-wicking undershirts are made with synthetic materials, or a mixture of synthetic and natural materials, they can still be appropriate for use underneath a brace.

Speak to your child’s orthotist for more information about cotton stockinette or ready-made undershirts.

Last updated: August 9th 2021