Vintage Sewing

A 1930s Bra – McCall 8092 – plain and simple

January 10, 2013

Happy New Year everyone!

I picked up this pattern after the usual disappointing trip to the lingerie shop where I could find absolutely nothing that was even remotely friendly to hypersensitive skin.

Unlike the gorgeous lingerie that everyone here posts, I made a very plain and simple bra. But it is very skin friendly. Here is the pattern:

Love the bloomers! They look so … substantial.

Here is the back of the pattern:

Anyway back to the bra. On first examination, these were my thoughts:


  • one seam only
  • instead of finishing the edges with binding as suggested  it will be easy to line by making a duplicate and sewing the two together


  • like many vintage bras, exposed elastic at the back – fortunately I have some nice soft woven elastic that should be OK
  • eight darts (16 if you count the lining) because you need darts if there aren’t any shaping seams
  • some nervousness about fitting. The only information given with the pattern is the 32” bust measurement – presumably this is the high bust measurement. The sketches on the front are unusually realistic and suggest a build similar to mine.

I made up a toile from an ancient poly-cotton sheet using my 1936 Singer (it is, after all, a 1930s pattern). To my astonishment, the fit was great. I have a slight gap just under my underarm where a shaping seam would be in many patterns, but I am willing to call this breathing space.

The only alteration I made was to ignore the pattern piece for the elastic length and opt instead for what felt right (a little longer).

The toile was so comfortable and soft, I decided to use it as a lining. By now I should be moving toward a discussion of the delightful floral or polka-dotted luxury remnant that would be perfect with the addition of some feminine touches of lace and ribbon. Unfortunately, I have a penchant for thin white blouses and tops in summer. The outside of the bra is a flesh-coloured silk with some body. It also turned out to have an annoying amount of cross-wise stretch so I used a very light non-woven interlining to stabilise it.

My elastic was white, so I stained it with some very strong Assam tea and salt, producing a flesh colour that, as yet, shows no signs of washing out. With some trepidation I sewed a little piece of lace to it. I really hoped it wouldn’t cause problems. I used a trouser bar and hook for the fastener because I have a lot of those in my haberdashery drawer.

I have worn it on several stinking hot humid days without any adverse effects. The lace on the elastic seems to sit far enough away from my skin so it isn’t scratchy.

You will have to take my word for the fit as Brian, my dress-model, is the exhibitionist in the house and he’s a bit lacking in the chest area:


The back view:


In retrospect, I shouldn’t have used wavy lace. I should also have dressed Brian with more care, as in real life it honestly does look a bit better than that. I will be making several more.

For anyone considering a pattern like this, I can say with confidence that the McCall 8092 in size 32” bust (size 14 in the 1930s) with some adjustment to the elastic comfortably fits a body with these measurements:

  • upper bust 32”
  • full bust 34”
  • under bust 30”

It probably would not be suitable under clingy or tight-fitting  garments.

Another version of this post where I snarl a bit about bras and bra manufacturers is here:



    1. Sorry Miranda – the black lace is Brian’s stretch camisole. He needs it to hold in all the padding I added to his waist and hip. I should really try something similar with his bust area to round it out a bit more.

    1. To be honest, I am tempted for reasons of nostalgia. I have some vivid memories of my great grandmother’s and grandmother’s underwear.

      I can still remember my grandmother questioning me sternly about my underpants: “Tell me, what do these cover? What do they cover?”

  1. Good for you! I’ve had so much trouble with allergies to my bras that for some time I was having to wear an undershirt under the bra! The fabrics, elastics, lace, and hardware each create their own little universe of agony.
    Thank you so much for sharing your success. I’m going to check out your blog post.

  2. I love this! I too hate shopping for bras — not only because I have sensitive skin, but because I’m very small. This looks like a wonderful pattern, and it’s frustrating that I’d probably never be able to find a copy of it. But you have inspired me to look for other vintage bra patterns.


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