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adding a bust dart

user-105952 | Posted in Fitting on

How do I add a large bust dart to a shell type sleeveless dress pattern,  haven’t been able to solve my problem with the research I’ve done.  


  1. SewNancy | | #1

    There are sevearal methods, but I find that Palmer and Pletsch's book Fit for Any Body does a very good job with good illustrations. I have a lot of books on fitting and I use their book the most.
    PS I do a fba on every pattern and it becomes second nature. Also, I choose my pattern size by my upper bust measurement. I am pear shaped and usually I add to back hip and use the verticle addition to bust to add to the hip. It often fits better when the addition is internal instead of external.

    1. user-105952 | | #2

      Thanks Sew Nancy,

      I was hoping somebody could write a quick method (maybe on best place to hinge) for the bust dart which I know should be simple but it's just not computing for me right now, brain block I quess as I'm 45 & have been sewing since age 11. I have never had a problem  altering standard patterns which as you know can be somewhat time consuming.  I opened a dress shop 3 yrs ago & the time factor is becoming more of an issue as a lot of my clients bring in a pic of the dress they want and I take it from there.  I have never invested in any of the books but perhaps I should.  You mentioned Palmer & Pletsch.  I was also reviewing on Threads the book Fitting and Pattern Alteration: A Multi-Method Approach by Elizabeth Liechty, Della Pottberg and Judith Rasband. Are you familiar with that one?  

      1. SewNancy | | #3

        I have that book and it is good, but the illustrations leave a bit to be desired. It was written as a textbook I think and is pretty complete. But, the Palmer Pletsch book is easier to come by and has better illustrations. I use both, some times concurrently.
        As for an easy method for adding a bust dart spread pattern at bust desired amount and draw in a bust dart ending it from 1 to 1 1/2 in. from bust pt depending on the size of the bust. However, because I cut for my upper bust this would not take into account that I need more circumfrance. To increase bust size you need to take into account that you need more fabric vertically and horizontally, but rarely so you need it in the back.

      2. mygaley | | #4

        Wow! Your customers are very fortunate to have you willing to sew from a picture.  Please be sure you are adequately compensated; you mentioned "time" and adjusting/drafting patterns is time-consuming work for which you should be paid.  I charge $20.00 extra for a garment with a pattern if the pattern does not come in the customer's correct size.  If there is no pattern, I charge an appropriate amount for making a muslin.  I have never had a customer balk at these prices.  When customers know what they're getting, they are happy.  God bless you as you sew.  Galey

  2. suesew | | #5

    Think of a dart as taking up the extra fabric you had to add to go over the bust line and hang straight. Whatever you added to the front length has to be taken out at the side seams so the front and back side seams will match. You can do this by splitting and spreading the pattern to the correct length, marking the bust point and then make a fold that aims in that direction. The fold is the dart. You just don't want to stitch it all the way to the bust point,

    1. User avater
      Thimblefingers | | #6

      I use the Singer "The Perfict Fit" instructions for adding and adjusting bust darts and other bust problems.  I have sewn and designed professionally for years and their method work wonders on even larger than D-cup busts.  I've been so satisfied with it that I haven't even bothered looking anywhere else and their pictures and instructions are very clear.

    2. user-105952 | | #7

      Wow, good info.

      Nancy, what I'm seeing on Amazon is Fit for Real People: Sew Great Clothes Using Any Pattern 1998. Goes for $87.00. Is this the one you're talking about? 

       Galey, Ha! It would probably scare me to death if I really figured out how much I "go in the hole" for some of the stuff I do.  I usually give the customer a rough estimate & try to stay pretty close to that hoping it'll balance out on some of the other stuff.  God Bless you too.  

      Sue Sew after I read your post it just clicked! Thanks, you removed the brain block! 

      Here's another one...I also do a lot of hand bead work on prom, bridal, etc. & have been searching for ages  (Googled every category I thought it might be under) for some type of bodice embellishment patterns so I don't have to space, measure, etc for every bead I sew.  Anybody know of anything. Thanks Diana    

      1. GinnaS | | #8

        http://www.palmerpletsch.com is tthe site for the women who wrote Fit for Real People.  You may be able to buy the book directly from them at a much lower cost than $87.Ginna

      2. FitnessNut | | #9

        Heavens, I've seen "Fit for Real People" in our local bookstore (Chapters) and it certainly didn't cost any $87! Look around. I'm sure you'll find it for much less.

      3. MaryAnn | | #10

        "Fit For Real People" has two retail prices depending on whether you get the spiral bound version or not.

        I'ts $27.95 for the spiral bound version.

        I think Pati Palmer would be aghast if she thought someone was charging and getting $87 for her book.

        Mary Ann Duff





      4. SewNancy | | #11

        Wow, $87? That is the book but I certainly didn't spend that.The price marked on the book is $25. Palmer Pletsch has a web site. I'd see if they have it there. I don't think that it is out of print so I would think you can certainly find it for less.
        Good luck, Nancy

      5. user-109453 | | #12

        Perhaps not exactly what you had in mind, but I have used Sulky Solvy as a pattern material for beading.  You can trace off your desired pattern with a Sharpie or other non-water based marker, pin it to your desired location, embellish away, then tear it off.  Because it is thin, it will usually tear away cleanly without any residue, but if you are worried, use a Q-tip dipped in water to follow the line of beading, there isn't enough water to spot the dress, but there is just enough to dissolve the Solvy.  This way you can embellish anything.

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