Plus-size Vintage Lingerie? I say!

So, I had some other bits and pieces planned for posting on here, but this came about and I decided it would take a front seat as I am so very, very happy with what I achieved.
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned before, but alongside my hobbies of sewing and a love affair with vintage clothes, I am a burlesque performer in my spare time. It’s something I truly love and adore doing – least of all because of the gorgeous ladies I get to perform with, who are all a complete riot and great fun to be around.
One problem which burlesque and vintage clothing both present to me is the fact I am above average size wise, in all departments. So while others in my troupe can buy costuming quite easily, I struggle a little more. This is compounded by the fact that I am rather blessed in the boobage department. 18G is not an easy bra size to find even in t-shirt bras, let alone something pretty.
Late last week, our troupe-head decided we needed to have a photoshoot for promotional material. Awesome! I love photoshoots. It was going to be on Monday (today) during practice – sweet, that means I’m already organised to go out. It’s going to be light coloured and pastels and vintagey. Fantas- wait, what? Pastel coloured? UGH.
Now, it isn’t that I don’t like pastels. I love pastels. I love vintage. The theme of the shoot suits me down to the ground. However, at a plussize, the general colour that you do find in pretty things is black. Sometimes red too, but black especially. I didn’t have anything to wear.
So what’s a sewing minded girl to do but make herself an outfit? I already owned a gorgeous pastel garterbelt from Lindex which I bought on TradeMe last year. It fits perfectly, so I decided to make some pieces to go with it. And here is the result:
As you can well guess, I am rather pleased! I think the colours work beautifully together, and everything fits pretty much as I’d expect it to.
The bra is made from a beautiful silk crepe my mother gave me just for this project – fabric buying is really hard on a budget, and I am lucky enough to have a mum who hordes fabric like I wish I could, and she’s always willing to help out with a little bit here and there. I also overlayed the top cup with a gorgeous stretch lace I found at Fabric Vision – a touch out of budget at $29.99 for a metre, but they do cuts of as small as 10cm! I got a 1/4 metre, so I would have enough for extra bits and pieces, which I’m glad of.
The pattern I used was by the extremely talented Brittany of Va-Voom Vintage, and is the pattern from her Va-Voom Vintage Bullet Bra Sew-along. The pattern is drafted for a 38DD-E bust, but with not all that much adjustment I managed to make it work just perfectly for my 38-40G cups! It is a lovely pattern, and I more than recommend it if you’re looking for a bullet bra pattern – even if you’re a beginner when it comes to sewing, Brittany’s instructions over the course of her sew-along (the project is split into 4 pieces) are easy to understand and guide you through the process brilliantly.
I didn’t follow the instructions exactly to the letter – I lined my bra where the instructions didn’t have a lining. It was really easy, I just made two bras, and then sewed them together right-sides facing, and turned it through. This made for a really gorgeous finish (you know how I am about finishing!) and also meant there weren’t any seams against my skin to get itchy.
I also added a line of elastic on the front of the bra just below the cups – in the end my bullet bra was a little on the big side, and I didn’t like the way it sat on me. The elastic really helps pull it in and sit properly on me, which made me really happy. If you’re like me and have a big difference between your bust and your underbust, I highly recommend this addition, as it made all the difference in fit for me. The line of zigzags also adds interest which if done in a bright contrasting stitch could look awesome.
To go with the bra, I decided I’d make up some mid-high waisted knickers. I have an old pair of bikini bottoms which I cut up to use as a pattern for another costume, and I love the look of them so decided they would be a good match.
These are a stretch silk, again a donation from my mother! It was not a strong stretch, and only one-way so it made it a little tricky to work with, but I adore the end result. The lace in the overlay is the same as the overlay on the bra cups, which I think is a great tie-in, and also adds interest to an otherwise plain pair of white-cream knickers.
It was also my first time using lingerie elastic, which was a fun addition to the project. I wasn’t sure how you were meant to attach it properly, so I guessed and it worked rather well. I sewed it on the right side of the fabric upside down, and then folded it over and sewed it down again, so just the little frilly detail poked out. Worked a lot better than I was expecting!
I am ridiculously happy with this ‘outfi’t, words can’t really describe it. I’ve made costume underwear before, but that was always just adding lace or ribbons to bras, or red stretch liquidfoil knickers (I’ll post pics another time!), where as this to me was actual lingerie – it’s beautiful and lacy and all those special things lingerie should be. For a first attempt  I’m, I think, understandably happy.
So, again, thank you to Brittany and her amazing pattern. Be sure to stop by her blog if you’re a lover of vintage bits and pieces, she has some wonderful content and is funny to boot – the perfect combination in my mind for a blog!
What’s the most interesting or challenging sewing project you’ve made of late? Have you ever tried your hand at making your own lingerie? I’d love to hear your stories!
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