Saturday, August 29, 2015

A Vintage Brassiere in Profile... 1940's Bra by Siva of Paris

Hello lovely readers. Recently, I've been working on grading a few of my 1940's bra patterns into larger sizes. While doing this, I tested a few for fit and accuracy by sewing a few samples and became SO inspired to sew more lingerie again! In a fit of passion, I pulled all of my vintage brassieres out to study their construction and was again delighted to see the interesting details that these little beauties featured.

If you ever decide to try your had at some historically accurate bra sewing, here a few details you might like to try!

This little bra by Siva of Paris is from the late 1930's to early 1940's. The fabric is a satin coutil, a wonderful, but very hard-to-find piece of fabric for lingerie sewing. If you can't find coutil, a great substitute is to buy a very lightweight satin and baste it to a soft cotton lawn or fine muslin. This has worked wonders for some of my bra sewing projects.

The closure is one of my favorite types, and adjustable length of elastic (with mini buttonholes!) with a hook. These are incredibly comfortable and are still my favorite way to finish the back of a bra.

The back is finished with a sturdy piece of cotton tape and the upper edges have simply been very neatly turned under and stitched with a double row instead of bound or faced.

The back of the strap has the raw edge turned under and stitched in. You can see a mini tutorial on sewing bra straps using this method.

Some of the straight seams on the interior are flat felled seams to conceal raw edges. Others, like the curved over bust seams are just top-stitched.

The bra band is particularly nice with some beautiful top stitched detail and some nicely accomplished mitering.

By far, the most interesting feature of this bra is the little double channel running down the center front with a drawstring inside for gathering.

And the top-stitching details are quite lovely in this pretty little platinum satin bra.

And one final construction detail, instead of the adjustable straps we're used to now, for comfort this bra has an added length of elastic to the back of the plain satin ribbon straps.

And, what joy is mine, the bra still has it's original tags!

This week I made a few test versions of Depew 2013 and used a lot of details studied from this bra to make my own as neatly sewn as this one.

Here is a snap of some of my top-stitching turning out better than I could have hoped!

I enjoyed sewing this bra so much again that I thought it might be time for another lingerie sew-along. What do you think?

Happy sewing,


  1. I think that you are right. It is time for another bra sew along. This bra is adorable and I would love to learn how to make it. Please think about starting as soon as you can.

  2. Thank you for all these detail photos. I love to see how people made lingerie in different eras. No lycra, no foam padding, ho hook and closure, no underwire, but still a very beautiful piece.

  3. What a beautiful piece of history you have here! I especially like the fact that the sides under the arms do not strech;it must be how those sweater girls kept such a sleek and refined line. I would love to make this brassire! Thank-you for the offer! #@POLYVORE@PINKS785

  4. It's quite lovely Anna! Every time you have one of these posts I get so inspired to sew lingerie, but somehow never end up following through and actually sewing something. I swear one of these days I will change that.

  5. I have not yet dared to start any bra sewing, even though I own several patterns :) I have two vintage bras, much like these in the photos, and the details are very similar. I only wish I could get hold of the same fabric:)
    I second a bra sewalong!! I need to get started on my lingerie sewing :D

  6. Wonderfully informative and such great pictures.

  7. What gorgeous work! Very inspiring - indeed a lingerie sew along sounds very timely to me! :)