Sewing: A 1940s Minnie Mouse Bra

Minnie Mouse 1940s Vera Venus Bra

I’m sorry – the two loves of my life had to merge at some point! Disney and lingerie don’t often make it together when you’re large busted – I guess they’re catering more towards a younger audience who they assume won’t be wearing such things, or in such sizes anyway. So when I sewed this up in a red polka dot fabric with black bias binding, I just knew it had to be my “Minnie Mouse” bra!

As you’ve probably figured out, my lingerie sewing addiction is now in full swing – I bought myself a big order of lingerie making materials from Sewing Chest (here’s a pic on my Instagram) using some money I’d received for Christmas, and I’ve already used up quite a lot of it – I’m already needing more elastic! I’m always intrigued by anything that has a vintage feel, especially in underwear, and I’m always happy when I find something that will fit my bra size, so when I stumbled across the 1940s Bra Pattern at Vera Venus, I knew I had to try it. The pattern comes as a PDF and costs £6.50. It’s based on an original 1940s bra but has been slightly updated. I’m not definite of the full range of sizes currently available, but it definitely goes from 28 to 40, A to DD, and in some cases, E. At first glance, I was unsure as to whether my 28GG bust would fit into this pattern, but the more I read about it, the more I was convinced it would. As Jeanne warns in the post, your usual RTW size will most likely not be the size you take in this bra due to the vintage sizing method and the fact that it has no elastic/stretch fabric aside from a small section in the back band. In the measurement guide, examples are given of ladies with their measurements, RTW size and VV 1940s bra size, and luckily there was one close to me in sizing – Ruth has a 28″ underbust and 36.5″ full bust and wears a 30DD with less elastic in the Vera Venus pattern. I sent over my measurements to Jeanne via the form to buy the bra (that is currently around 27.5″ underbust and 36.5/37″ full bust) and she responded (very quickly I might add!) that she now had a 28E available in the pattern and thought it would work for me. And did it?
EDIT: The measurement guide has now been updated with sizes from 28 to 38 A to F, and some additional examples of measurements have been added, so make sure you check it out!

Minnie Mouse 1940s Vera Venus Bra Minnie Mouse 1940s Vera Venus Bra Minnie Mouse 1940s Vera Venus Bra

I would say that’s a pretty resounding yes! To my great surprise, I fit into an E cup! Yes, let’s not dwell on the fact that it is a vintage E cup – let me have my moment of fun please. (And also, let’s not focus on my somewhat alarmed facial expressions in this post – we were testing out my new photography lights, Christmas present from Ben, and let’s just say they were slightly bright at some angles!).
So as you can probably see, the Vera Venus 1940s bra is an non-wired, non-padded pattern with a fairly vintage shape. It’s not a bullet bra by any means, but does have a fairly distinct pointed shape that’s characteristic of bras of this era. I know a lot of people don’t like this shape nowadays, and generally I’m more a fan of a rounded shape, but it’s really nice to have something slightly different like this too. The fabric is a simple (pretty cheap) cotton – I can’t even remember where I bought this one, but this one on Amazon looks to be very much the same and is £2.80/m.
The pattern is printed onto an A2 sheet, so I printed it off in sections, sellotaped it together and copied the pattern out onto my everlasting tracing paper (what will I do when it runs out?!).
I actually didn’t follow the pattern instructions word for word as I decided half way through that I would make my version of the bra unlined. This doesn’t leave particularly pretty innards as the seams are all visible inside, but I was planning this more as a fitting muslin – in the end, it’s actually very wearable and I wonder if I might prefer it without the lining actually! As I didn’t line the bra, it needed something to finish the edges, so I grabbed some black bias binding I had leftover and it gave it the perfect Minnie Mouse finishing touch.
As you can see, it has a slightly longer band than bras nowadays, and the pattern also suggest that it could be lengthened to create a bustier style top – I’m looking forward to trying this for summer! The straps are non adjustable, but they do have a short section of elastic at back (note the ruching in the straps near the band) which allows for a little leeway. I actually tested the length on me before sewing them on, and I’m glad I did as I found them a little too long, so I snipped off a couple of inches – I could even still shorten them slightly I think. It fastens at the back with 3 hook and eyes, all sewn on by hand – horror! They are sewn onto a strip of thick elastic which can be covered or left uncovered – I went uncovered, as like I said, the plan for this was a muslin to test fit, but I like the look of the uncovered elastic too and how it ties in with the binding. I sewed on the hooks and eyes in quite a rush to finish it, so they’re a little wonky sadly, but do the job.
But my favourite part about this bra and what drew me in to make it is this:

1940s 28E Bra Detail

The triangular lower cup support – so pretty! Don’t look too closely at my lines of stitching please – I know they’re more than a little wonky on one side (I wish I’d photographed the other side more closely instead, that one is better, but I forgot!). I love the lines of stitching on this and think it not only adds function but a lovely detail.

1940s 28E Bra 1940s 28E Bra

And here are the not so perfect innards – although, I don’t think it looks too bad after all! I do wish I’d remembered to sew the end of the straps into the binding though, never mind. And a final few pictures:

1940s 28E Bra 1940s 28E Bra 1940s 28E Bra

I’m really pleased with the fit – the band is perfectly snug, and I love the idea that you can shorten or lengthen the elastic too in the pattern to suit you. And I’m so amazed with the cup fit and support too!
What do you think? Would you try this 1940s bra pattern?

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14 Comments

  1. January 4, 2016 / 8:57 pm

    That looks great! As a large-busted lady I’ve been wary of soft / lounge style bras, but this gives me hope that a pattern like this could work for me. Do you think the quilted (for lack of a better term) piece in the bottom cup help provides lift / support?

    Well done!

    • Sian Thomas
      January 5, 2016 / 12:47 pm

      Thank you Kelley! I was really surprised that I managed to get support from something that’s non-wired and unlined. I think the “quilted” (I agree with you on wording there!) section definitely does help in terms of support, and the seaming on the cups helps too. Obviously it’s not on the same level of lift and support as a bra with wires, but it’s nice for something a little different 🙂

  2. January 4, 2016 / 11:07 pm

    Great post – informative and entertaining. You look a million dollars in this bra. What a fabulous fit!

    • Sian Thomas
      January 5, 2016 / 12:48 pm

      Thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post 🙂 I was amazed at how well the fit worked for me, especially since I’ve been finding it difficult to find a bra pattern to fit and suit my size!

  3. January 5, 2016 / 8:12 pm

    I love love love this, it looks absolutely amazing! Huge well done to you.
    Jas Poole Blog | Photography & Lifestyle

  4. January 6, 2016 / 8:13 pm

    So Cute! I love the color combo and it fits you like a glove! You have got some mad sewing skills! 😀 That’s great to hear about how you printed up the pdf file too. I always wondered how pdf sewing patterns worked as I’ve seen a couple vintage ones I like but have never tried it out! 🙂

    • Sian Thomas
      January 8, 2016 / 10:01 am

      Thank you 🙂 I couldn’t believe it actually fit me, especially first time too!

  5. Teresa Ayerra Ballesteros
    January 7, 2016 / 10:54 pm

    It looks perfect I have done the same pattern and it fits me very well.

    • Sian Thomas
      January 8, 2016 / 10:01 am

      Thank you! It’s a lovely pattern 🙂 What fabric did you choose for yours?

  6. LMJ
    January 9, 2016 / 2:26 pm

    Love this. I have a similar problem … 30G/GG not easy to find bras that size outside the UK (which is where mine come from), let alone patterns. I’ve just been cutting out the Maya but now that I see there is some hope of having a bit of support without wires, I really want this pattern.

    • Sian Thomas
      January 9, 2016 / 7:22 pm

      It is quite difficult to find things once you get above a G cup – not sure if you’ve seen, but I also run a lingerie blog at Big Cup Little Cup so that might help you to find a few more in your size 🙂
      I tried the Maya pattern a few weeks ago (post here if you haven’t seen) and sadly found the projection wasn’t quite right for me, but it may work for you – I’d love to know if it does! I’m planning to make a few tweaks and try it again though 🙂
      I was so surprised to see that this worked for my size, even with no wires, lining and padding – crazy! I’d definitely recommend it.

  7. Revisa
    February 24, 2016 / 11:26 pm

    Looks super fun! I’m quite impressed

  8. CadyBeara
    September 11, 2016 / 11:09 pm

    OMG, this is straight adorable! Im not as busty as some (38E/F), but still have trouble finding bras that are the right size AND have enough projection for my post-pregnancy/nursing breasts! I just may try this pattern, as it appears to be both cute AND functional, especially on days you dont care if you have that super-rounded shape! 🙂

    I bet this would look fabulous in a striped fabric too, with all the different directions intersecting!

    Thank you so much for your review – it’s been extremely helpful!

    • Sian Thomas
      September 12, 2016 / 1:32 pm

      It would definitely look awesome in a striped fabric – if you do that, I’d love to see a picture of how it turns out! Hope it works out well for you too, and glad you liked the review 🙂

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