How to make a Bullet Bra

If you are under the age of 40, you can be forgiven for not knowing what a Bullet Bra was (and is). After all, its heyday was in the late 40s and 50s. Those of us, of a certain age, however, will know exactly what we mean by a Bullet Bra. With its distinctive cone-shaped 4 piece cups and circular stitching, it was “the” bra for any sweater girl of the times.

But can we re-create the Bullet Bra for today’s woman? In today’s fabrics? The answer to both questions is a pointed YES we can! And our Design Team did exactly that!

The Draft

To make the iconic bra, you can use the Classic bra cup made from foam. Trim the cross cup seam allowance from the foam.

Use a zig-zag stitch (width 4 mm and length 1 mm) to sew over the edges that have been butted together on the machine bed. The resulting foam cup will provide the perfect 3-dimensional bra cup, enabling you to visualize the ideal seam placement.

Draw the seamlines on the bra. We used a wash-out marker to draw the lines and it took us two tries to get the lines where we thought they should be. The lines should intersect at the bust point.

Re-cut the foam into the new shapes. Our Design Team made sure there were notches on each of the pieces – it is too easy to get these pieces flipped over or turned upside down.

Trace the shapes to a pieces of paper, then add the seam allowances to each of the four pieces along the cross cup seams. I’ve indicated those by the coloured lines.

Cut the new pattern pieces from your chosen fabric. Our Duoplex works exceedingly well. Then sew the two upper cups together (1). Sew one lower cup piece to each side of the upper cup (2 and 3) so the seam that connects the two lower cups is left open.

Around and Around we go…

To do the circular stitching that defines a Bullet Bra, use a small circular object (we used a pattern weight here) to draw the starting circle. Position the circle so that the centre of the circle is at the intersection of the seams.

Use a straight stitch to move around the first circle, then stitch away from the first line by the width of your presser foot (about 3/8″ or 1 cm is ideal)

Once the circular stitching is done, you can close the lower cup seam. Yes, it will be that pointed! Exactly what you want.

For the band, our Design Team cut away some of the front bridge area and turned it over to finish the edge. Then they cut a 1″ finished band (finished width x 2 plus seam allowances) to sew along the bottom edge of the front frame.

From the right side

They then continued to sew the bra as they usually would, sewing the cups into the band.

And completed the bra. Notice the front strap attachment is a piece of strap elastic folded over a ring. The extra-wide base of the strap attachment adds extra holding power.

This is an example of the original Bullet Bra. Do you think we captured its essence in our modern-day interpretation? Let us know in your comments!

13 replies
  1. Christina
    Christina says:

    Wow, thank you for the great tutorial Beverly, it looks like a really fun project. I was just wondering which way the DOGS should be orientated when cutting out the cup pieces?

    Reply
  2. ROBIN
    ROBIN says:

    Can’t imagine anyone wearing that kind of bra — but from the lady in the picture, it seems somewhat comfortable in spite of the ‘imposing look’.

    Reply
  3. Holly
    Holly says:

    This bra look fabulous, and the directions are amazingly clear and detailed. You have truly captured the Bullet Bra Spirit!. Does this bra have the same projection and uplift that traditional Bullet Bras were known for?

    Reply
    • Beverly Johnson
      Beverly Johnson says:

      Oh yes. Our duoplex is every bit as supportive as the early Bullet Bras. Bonus – you don’t have to iron the modern-day version, but I remember ironing our bras in the 60s before Dacron came along.

      Reply

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