Free Vintage 1950’s Bra Pattern! | Here’s How to Use it
I Have a Free Pattern for You!
Do you remember that 1950’s longline bra I drafted and sewed, and simply raved about on this channel? Well, I have an exciting announcement. I am releasing the pattern for this bra for YOU to use, for free on my blog!
CLICK BELOW TO DOWNLOAD THE BRA PATTERN
Important Note: based on your own printer settings, this pattern may print with a small margin around the edges of the paper. While this won't make a huge difference, it will mean that the bra pattern measurements I provide may be a little off. If this happens to you, simply double check the measurements of the pattern with a measuring tape, and adjust from there.
So many of you expressed interest in the pattern, that I decided to release it all to you in a user friendly format, for free, on my blog! Now, why did I release this pattern for free? My time is quite limited and I really wanted to get the pattern out to you as soon as possible, so the pattern comes in only the size I drafted for myself, and is hand-drawn, albeit as accurately as possible.
If I were releasing this pattern for sale, I probably would have graded it into multiple sizes, added seam allowance, and digitized the pattern all neatly and perfectly. But at this stage in my life that isn’t realistic in terms of my time and expertise, so free, low-tech pattern it is.
I have a couple other articles on vintage bras on my channel that you will want to check out first. The first is on vintage bras and why they are (in my opinion) leagues better than modern bras in their supportiveness and attractiveness. The second video is all about the making of my very own vintage bra, so definitely check those out if you are interested in vintage bras, and if you plan on using this free pattern!
What Shape Are the Bra Cups?
You may notice that my own vintage bra was a "bullet bra", and that in some of these photos the cups look pretty pointy. Rest assured that the pattern I am releasing to you has been altered to have a less dramatic shape. This is something I chose to alter in my own bra upon finishing it, and that is the version of the pattern I am releasing to you. It is still a more pointy shape than modern bras (softly pointed bra cups are actually a really flattering shape), but it's still subtle enough to be worn day to day comfortably.
Why No Seam Allowance?
First of all, let’s talk about the pattern itself. Why doesn’t it include seam allowances? First of all, this is how I personally prefer bra and corset patterns to be, because it is more accurate. You trace it out onto your fabric, which gives you clear stitching lines for your garment. This means you can stitch the finished bra very accurately to how the pattern is designed.
Then you add seam allowance directly onto your fabric for the first half of the pattern pieces. Once you have cut them all out once, you can simply cut around them for the next half of the pattern pieces. Then you can add the stitching line onto those as well, by tracing the paper pattern pieces.
If you would rather add seam allowance to your paper pattern pieces, feel free to do so. Either way, you will need to think about what width of seam allowances to use for this pattern. Which leads me to the next reason I did not include seam allowance - that is, I recommend using two different widths of seam allowances for different areas of the bra. Why is that?
This longline bra contains a few boning channels down the body panels of the bra. I formed these boning channels by sewing flat-felled seams to connect each of these body panels together. For flat-felled seams, especially ones that will contain boning channels, you will want at least a 1.5 cm seam allowance.
However, for all of the seams involved in the bra cups, I recommend no wider than a 1 cm seam allowance for greater accuracy and ease in sewing.
Of course, all of this is completely up to you, which is why I didn’t want to include confusing differing seam allowances. For example, if you choose to form your boning channels out of some kind of woven fabric or bias tape stitched over the seams instead of flat-felling them, then a 1 cm seam allowance would be perfectly adequate for all of these seams.
Likewise, you could choose to sew the bra cup seams with a 1.5 cm seam allowance and trim them down later.
I recommend using a lightweight woven fabric for this bra, like satin, batiste, lightweight linen, etc. I have also included a triangular elastic gusset at the side of the waist line for greater comfort. If you want to make your bra extra comfy, feel free to use power mesh fabric (or another modern bra band fabric) for the centre-back panels, or even all of the body panels.
Using power mesh for all of the bra band could equal a slightly less supportive bra, but if you are more concerned with comfort, go for it.
How to Sew the Vintage Bra
Refer to my other video and blog post on the making of my 1950’s longline bra, for all of the instructions on how to sew this bra. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact me.
A couple things I would like to note here: It is very important to stay stitch your panels! The bra cup panels will need to be stay stitched around all of their edges, and the body panels will only need to be stay stitched around the top edges, which are curved and liable to stretch without reinforcement.
As for the centre- front interfacing: you will notice I included a separate pattern piece for the centre front interfacing, in which I split that panel's interfacing into two pieces. I did this so that the top frame of the bra at the centre could have its interfacing cut on the straight of grain, since the outer fabric will be cut on the bias, and we really don’t want any stretching here.
Now let’s get on to the directions for measuring yourself and altering the bra pattern to suit your body.
Your Measurements Vs. the Bra Measurements
Okay. What is the bad news, and what is the good news? The bad news, as I have already stated, is that my free bra pattern only comes in one size - the size I originally drafted it in. What’s the good news?
The good news is that you don’t need to be a math whiz or a drafting genius to size this bra pattern up or down to fit you. In fact, in this video and the accompanying blog post with the pattern, I am going to break down all of the pattern adjustments you may need to make, and how to carry them out.
The first step is measuring your own body. If you already have accurate body measurements recorded for yourself, you can skip this step.
However, I am going to introduce one new measurement that you probably don’t already have - the good news is, it is easy and fast to take. But first, let’s talk about the basic body measurements. There are three of these: Waist, underbust, and underbust to waist measurement.
Let’s break each one down.
Waist- if you are intending for your longline bra to go all the way down to your natural waist, then this is where you will measure. For most people, this is the narrowest point of their abdomen, the place where their body bends when you bend to the side, and/or the midpoint between your hip bone and the bottom of your rib cage. If you don’t want your bra to go all the way down to your natural waist but rather end a bit above it, then simply decide where you want the bra to end, and measure your body's circumference around this area.
Underbust- This is another circumference measurement. Your underbust is the area directly below your bust. This will be around your rib cage, and if you are wearing a bra, it is directly under the bra cups - where the bra band would begin. Don’t skip this step and simply use your current bra band size- your bra band size number is usually not the same as your actual underbust measurement. For example, my underbust measures 29 inches, but my bra band size is 32.
Your underbust to waist measurement - This will be a vertical measurement. With the measuring tape held at your underbust level, measure straight down, following any contours of your body, to either your natural waist, or whatever level you want your bra to end at.
Bottom Cup Depth (BCD) - The last meaurement that will probably be new to you is known as the “bottom cup depth” (BCD) measurement. This replaces the standard “full bust” measurement, and it is more accurate and helpful when drafting or sewing a bra for yourself. It will also be easier to alter the bra pattern once you have this measurement. It is a vertical measurement of the lower portion of your breast, while wearing a supportive and well-fitting bra. Starting with the measuring tape at the very bottom “crease” of your breast, where it meets the body (this should be right on the underwire line of your bra) measure up your breast, following the contours, to your breast apex. What is the apex? It is a term used in pattern drafting to refer to the fullest point of your breast, where it sticks out the most from your body. This usually corresponds to where your nipple sits inside the bra. My personal bottom cup depth measurement is 10 cm. Yours may be more or less than this.
Okay, so what are the measurements of this bra pattern? This will give you a starting point for knowing how and where to adjust your own pattern.
Waist - 66.5 cm*
Underbust to Waist - 12.8
Bottom Cup Depth - 10 cm
Underbust - 74 cm
*The waist does contain two large elastic gussets, which adds some "give" to this measurement.
Body Length Adjustment
The first thing you will want to alter is the length of the body section of the bra. Whether you need to shorten it or length it, the alteration will be the same. Using your underbust to waist measurement, compare this to the measurement of the bra pattern. I should clarify that on the bra, this measurement is taken from the underbust line at the centre of the breast (where it curves down the lowest) down to the waist. Figure out how much you need to add or subtract, then mark a horizontal
line roughly between the underbust line and the waist (the bottom of the bra).
Mark this line on the same level on all of the pattern pieces. You can hold the paper pattern pieces next to each other to get the line marked at the same level. Then, cut along this line. Work with one panel at a time. Either overlap the pieces the required amount to shorter, or spread them apart with paper between to lengthen. You will then need to adjust the side seam lines so that they are smooth over this alteration. Repeat on all of the panels. Finally, “walk” the paper pattern pieces together along the seam lines to make sure they are all the same length.
Note: if you are making a stylistic decision to shorten the bra band to end somewhere higher than your natural waist, you may be able to simply cut off any excess length directly from the bottom of the pattern pieces.
Now let’s deal with the width of the body vs the pattern. You may need to increase or decrease the width at the underbust level, the waist level, or both. Don't worry about the cups for now.
Figure out how much of a discrepancy you are dealing with. Then, divide this amount by 9, since there are 9 seam lines that we are dealing with between the panels, in which we can add or remove width.
Let’s just say we are dealing with a waist and underbust increase. Let’s just say your waist and underbust are both 4 cm (40 mm) bigger than the bra waist and underbust. You will divide 40 mm by 9. That equals about 4.5 mm to be added at each bra panel seam (except centre-front) at the waist and underbust level. Measure horizontally out 4.5 mm from each bra panel top and bottom corner, then connect these lines with either a straight line or a very gentle curve. Done!
Now let’s deal with the cups. Based on your bottom cup depth (BCD) measurement, you will know whether you need to reduce or increase the size of the bra cup panels.
The bottom cup depth of this bra pattern measures 10 cm, along the seam that goes up the centre of the bra cup, in the lower half. Let’s say you want to reduce this by 1 cm. Simply measure 1 cm down on the vertical seam lines of bra cup panels C and B that correspond to the vertical centre of the cup. These are the sides that will later be stitched to each other, and this is noted on the pattern.
Then, redraw the top line (it is horizontal and curved) of the bra cup. This is the horizontal "equator" of the bra cup, and is the seam that will later be stitched to the upper cups. Redraw it so that it remains about 1 cm, or a little less, below the existing line all along the way to the side corner of the cup (ie. so the new line remains roughly parallel to the old one). Now, repeat the same process with the upper cup panels.
Remember, this alteration is only a guess - you will later test it in the mock-up phase. And if all this is confusing, watch the video and give it a try. It is always tricky to put these kinds of instructions in writing.
In order to have the bra cup vertical seam line up with the seam below it on the body of the bra, you may need to do some improvisation here with the lines. It is okay to experiment, because the mock-up will test it all and you can adjust further there!
Go Out and Make Bras!
Good luck using this pattern! I would love to hear if any of you are planing to use it, and what your experience is if you do use it! Feel free to post pictures on Instagram and tag me if you make one! Is bra-making something you want to try in the future?
Contact me at email@example.com
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