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Vintage Underpinnings

EileenB5 | Posted in Patterns on

I have just finished two Vintage Vogue patterns, one from the 50’s the other the early 60’s.  I realize what is missing from the “fit” is a cone shaped bra and a multi layered net petticoat!!  I seem to remember my mom making us petticoats and I guess I could figure it out, but any ideas on how to maximize fluff with minimal hip width??  And I have no clue where to find a vintage bra pattern, any I have seen so far give a very “natural” shape.

Thanks for any input


  1. stitchmd | | #1

    Ewww, those bras had concentric stitching to maintain that hideous cone shape! Maybe you could adapt a bra pattern to insert a conical cup with a thin layer of batting to help shape it.

    As for the petticoats they were crinolines, a very stiff fabric that stood out and was extremely uncomfortable, just one or two layers, tiers weren't really necessary. Someone somewhere still sells that stuff.

    I suggest you try to find ways around this as those undergarments were not nice to wear. I'd also suggest you forego garter belts, a sure way to make pantyhose seem comfortable.

  2. rjf | | #2

    For the petticoats, you had to start with a 23" waist but the petticoat itself disguised whatever hips were under it.  Maybe if you planned on 3 or 4 tiers, you could get a smooth look from waist to hips and still have a lot of fullness around the hem.  In that case, I'd make the top tier from waist to hip, not gathers but a good amount of flare.  And then lots of gathering for the bottom two or three tiers.  Organdy was one choice of fabric, if crinoline is hard to find or too stiff for the look you want.  Some of the upper undergarments ("bra" doesn't sound like an appropriate term here)  had boning built in to acheive and maintain that pointy look.  Just don't bump into the person in front of you.                                                  rjf         

  3. selwood | | #3

    Try a square-dance shop? Sew one of those babies to a half slip at the hip and voila!

  4. Dove | | #4

    Showing my age--can't remember how many of those things I made (and wore) over the years.  But it isn't really hard to do.

    Start with a top panel of muslin or tricot to fit your hip measurement, add a casing and elastic.  Second and third tiers are made from nylon net, assembled like what you probably know as a broomstick skirt; adjust the widths of all tiers depending on your height.  The bottom ruffle you may want to bind with bias to keep it from being rough on hose, and it should probably be a double layer of net bound separately to make a double-full ruffle.  Sew gathered parts to the outside, then topstitch over the gatherings to keep them flat.

    Hope this makes sense--don't have any way to draw the directions. 

  5. carolfresia | | #5

    Eileen, I swear I saw a vintage bra pattern on eBay at one time, probably several months ago. I can't imagine wearing such a thing, but you're right, it does go with that vintage look! You might search there occasionally,though be warned that there seems to be a pretty strong market for vintage underpinning patterns, esp. those that have their original pattern envelopes and art intact.


    1. EileenB5 | | #7

      Thanks, I haven't thought of e-bay for patterns. I keep thinking with all the revivals of Bye-Bye Birdie that there would be some sources for theatre costumers for 50's and 60's things, I guess ther's just still too much available in Vintage shops.


      1. JeanetteR | | #8


        Should you make more of these vintage garments, use my tip for any bride/bridesmaid I've made wedding dresses or ensembles for - go bra-shopping first.  Decide on the underpinnings, then for every fitting thereafter wear the same.  It's amazing how your shape changes with different bras, in the bust point, projection, and width across the front.  This doesn't help at all with sourcing your fifties garments though, good luck!  Jeanette

  6. Barbaran8 | | #6

    Ah, the Dior "New Look"! Try hitting your city's mastectomy bra supply place, there are some very frightening undergarments still for sale out in the world... Also, for costume supplies if you want to go even further back with vintage undergarments, try Amazon drygoods (catalog out of Iowa?) or Greenberg and Hammer from New York.

  7. kai230 | | #9

    You can buy a bullet bra here http://www.cameo-intimates.com/hbullet.shtml

    1. EileenB5 | | #10

      WOW thanks, that's exactly what I was looking for.  I really didn't want to sew one, but thought I had no choice. 

      Thanks again,


      1. kai230 | | #11

        I really didn't want to sew one

        Whew! It sure looks like a lot of work!

        You got some good crinoline advice; hope you can post some pics.

  8. jacob1066 | | #12

    I am very grateful to you for this query and the replies you received.  I have just made two 50's era dresses, one a Vintage Vogue   (costumes for a high school  play) and was wondering how to make the petticoat.  The young lady being gowned is a swim team member (36-27-34.  Those were the days!)  and fortunately needs no special bra to wear the Vogue.

    Thanks to all who wrote.


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