The Bullet Bra
Posted on Friday the 23rd August 2019 by Tip Top Sewing
The bullet bra must be the most famous piece of vintage lingerie. Everything about it is unique and slightly unusual for a modern lady - from the way it looks to the shape it gives. But the second factor is what makes this bra so appealing.I wanted to sew a bullet bra for ages. Since I couldn’t find the right pattern, I was going to make one with my measurements. But it never happened because I don’t feel very excited about drawing my own patterns. On top of that, I didn’t have enough bra making experience in general and I didn’t know how to replace certain elastics and other notions.
A couple of months ago, ahead of the hot summer months, I started looking into bra making again. I wanted something unlined, thin and woven. In the beginning, it seemed like a good idea to sew a balconette bra with plastic underwire but quick research showed that this type of underwire is completely useless. Since I didn’t want to use metal underwire, the choice got even smaller. And that’s when I came across Kwik 3594 pattern. It didn’t look like a bullet bra, but it had a strong vintage feel. In order to turn it into a proper 50s bra, I changed the cup by turning it into a 3 piece one, which is what it gives it a better shape. And I did some circular topstitching with a cotton thread. It sounds like a simple and purely decorative step, but it’s something that truly added a bullet shape! As for the size, I used my regular bra one and it fits me perfectly.
Even though the pattern asks for a fabric with some stretch, I used a shirting cotton material and it worked perfectly for it. For the back part of the bra, I used some cotton jersey and to do that I had to split the bridge detail somewhere around the side.
One of the biggest bra making challenges is notions. I used my favourite wide plush back elastic, which gives an amazing amount of support. For all the other sides I used a lingerie elastic from my stash. It’s very thin and narrow and can be replaced by any other lingerie on knicker elastic. As for the bra closure, I had to make one myself. I found lots of instructions and calculations of how to do it but ended up simply eyeballing most of the process. And I’m quite happy with the result! It feels comfortable to have it on my back and it serves the purpose just as it should. What else could I ask for?
I must also add that all of the elastics and hooks & eyes are a very modern touch. Original bullet bras didn’t have them in this shape and form, but it’s something that gives you more comfort and familiarity.
The fit of this bra is honestly my favourite part about it. It’s the most comfortable bra I’ve worn. I’ve made another soft bra in the past, which is a Watson bra, but this one is even more comfortable. I’m not exactly fussy about commercial bras and how they feel and fit, I can find something comfortable in pretty much any brand. But not as comfortable as this bullet bra! As for the way it looks, it does give a very interesting shape. When I showed it to my husband and said: “look, I made a pointy bra!”, he responded: “it’s not pointy, it just replicates the natural shape”. I couldn't say it any better than him.
I know this pattern isn’t very popular with vintage lingerie fans, but I would highly recommend it after a couple of tweaks. It’s the closest to the 50s bras we can find on the market and it has a nice modern touch which we’re used to.