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Conversational Threads

D cups

iceni | Posted in Fitting on

Hi everyone. Please, please can anyone help? I have stopped sewing dresses because I have put on some weight and I am now a D Cup. Is there any way (Not too hard please I’m a beginner) that I can adjust the bust size on dress patterns to fit ? I have asked evry major pattern company and they have just ignored me.

Thank you



  1. samtowanda | | #1

    Some of the pattern company have patterns with adjustments for different bust sizes. I recommend that you learn how to do a full-bust adjustment. Check out Patternreview.com and look for FBA threads. There is a lot of discussion on this topic. I have Sandra Betzina's book, Fast Fit, and I like how she does this adjustment.

  2. Teaf5 | | #2

    I agree with Towanda; check out the "multi-cup size" patterns AND the instructions online and in books about Full Bust Adjustment.

    The FBA generally includes increasing the size of the dart, lengthening the front bodice (because it has to go over more bust before hitting your waist) and often adding width to the front bodice piece below the armhole and lowering the bust point.

    An interesting point is that cup size is related to the difference between your rib measurement and bust point measurement, so you don't increase the size of the entire pattern.

    Someone with a D cup might need a size 10 pattern, even though her bust measurement is closer to a size 16. But you can't solve the problem by using a size 16 front bodice and size 10 back bodice piece, either. Once you figure out your FBA, you can use it on any pattern, so it's worth a bit of experimentation at the onset.

  3. jatman | | #3

    Hi Iceni,

    I borrowed a friends Palmer Pletsch DVDs and they showed how to do a full bust adjustment (among other things).  I honestly don't remember which DVD it was on - could have been the shirts and blouses one or the jacket one or it may be on both DVDs.  The host of the DVD, Marta Alto, made it look so easy.  It's not an adjustment I need to make so I've never tried it but it may be worth a watch.  You may be able to check it out at your local library before buying it.  At any rate here is their website:


    Good luck!


    1. iceni | | #4

      Hi thankyou for your kind suggestions I will try the web site right away.


      1. Ceeayche | | #5

        As a fellow D-plus, I recommend that whatever you do: once you get the fit right, take it all apart and create a flat pattern.  It will save you time and despair in the future, and will make it easier to modify patterns in the future.

        1. iceni | | #6

          Hi there. Thankyou for your advice. I'll try that. I contacted Palmer-Plesch and they are putting out a CD in January on how to fit D cups. so I look forward to that. In the meantime, I'll try to find a princess line pattern because they are supposed to be easier to add on to in the front seem.



          1. Cathie | | #7

            I am a 45 D plus, and am trying to get my mind around this. I do agree, try to find out about different FBA's, and try them out. Someone mentioned that the OLDER fitting patterns have a lot of help. So I got an 80's Butterick fitting pattern, in 12 (I really needed 14), and the info is amazing. They have a template for C and D cups that you superimpose on the sloper (basic sloper), which lengthens and widens, and has different, and lower darts. Of course, tweaking will be necessary. I have sewn for a long time, but really had no fitting knowledge, save seam extensions. Also, for over D, the pattern tells you what to do. So, try some OLDER fitting patterns. Mine was 25 cents, at a charity shop.

          2. iceni | | #8

            Hi Cathie, I thought I was a 44D, butif I go by the How to take bust measurements, I am a 40 D plus I am confused! Anyway back to the 80s patterns, how do you know they are 80s, is there a date somewhere I can find.There is a huge thrift store near me and they have thousands of old patterns. Thanks for your input and best wishes.

          3. Cathie | | #9

            Girl, you are SO lucky to have all those patterns near by, and not expensive!!!!! There are different ways to measure cup, some with rib cage, some with upper bust (chest). My upper area is about 40 1/2 in., and my bust 45 to 46 in. When I buy bras I wear a D, and DD is too large, but there are no standards for bra sizing. According to some formulas I have tried I am a DD, so will try the alterations for both, and compare. There are dates on the backs of most patterns (I have a fitted slip from 1950, looks more like a dress for nowadays). Just hunt around on the back envelope. I will try to find myself some more fitting paterns, other than my Butterick one. The older ones are the best. I THINK the patternmaker, Don MCCunn said that. Also, see his site, for more on fitting!!!! Good luck. Off to Halloween party. I'm a dog walker. Cathie


          4. ljb2115 | | #10

            Try to locate the Singer Library "The Perfect Fit" book.  It has been out of print for some time, but the local library or Half-Price Books may carry a copy.  This is one of the finest flat pattern alterations books ever published.


          5. jatman | | #11

            Hi ljb2115,

            Can you tell us more about this book?  Does it address a lot of different fitting issues?

            Several copies can be found at Abe Books:


            Any info you can share would be appreciated.  I love to sew but rarely get the fitting just the way I want it.


          6. ljb2115 | | #12

            Thanks for your inquiry.  In the 1980's, Singer published a series of fantastic sewing manuals.  These are almost "coffee table" quality.  Anyway, I digress.....The "Perfect Fit" book, which was produced in 1987 by Cy DeCosse, Inc., addresses nearly every body "problem"; from the ultra-thin to the amply endowed.  I alter my man-tailored shirt patterns, using the bustline method on page 76, lower left.  This is a fool-proof method for enlarging the bust area a good  1.5" - right where you need it.  When I was teaching shirtmaking, I always emphasized this method, as it did not require adding a dart in the bust area; as I feel a bust dart in a tailored shirt has the "loving hands at home"look.  (I know, now darts are "in", but for me - never!)

            It is nearly impossible for me to describe this method, as a picture is worth a thousand words.  I have been fortunate to find some Singer books at Half-Price Books, but haven't looked on Amazon recently.  Also check your local Goodwill and Salvation Army stores; ASG (American Sewing Guild) in-house sales are another good  place to find out-of-print books.

            The ISBN# is 0-86573-214-0 - hard back and ISBN# 0-86573-213-2 - paperback. 

            I hope this helps you a bit.  Maybe someone who is  regular Forum reader is ready to give up her "Perfect Fit" book.

          7. jatman | | #21

            Thank you for the information.  I just ordered a copy off of Abe Books - you should get commission!

            Just curious - you said you taught shirt making?  I would love to take such a class but can't seem to find one.  I do live near a really good quality fabric store and they offer some classes but I seemed to have missed the boat on signing up for any for the rest of this year - they are all filled up.  Did you teach at a college or a high school or a store?  I'm just trying to get a feel for where else I might look to find a class like that.

            Thank you for any info!


          8. ljb2115 | | #23

            All my teaching experience has evolved from "trial and error".  I have an old, self-published book written by Barbara Hellyer, copyright 1982.  She traveled the Midwest giving sewing seminars using her industry method of sewing.  David Page Coffin refers to her in his "Shirtmaking" book.  The book I refer to is "Sewing Magic".  This book has more info. in it than you can ever get in a quickie class setting at a sewing expo.  Margaret Islander uses most of the same methods, except I cannot sew without a pin or two to keep all pieces together.  Barbara's method of repositioning a shirt collar pattern is worth the price of the book.  Although I am still using her method of completely lining a shirt yoke:  her description of attaching a collar band and collar is priceless.  Louise Cutting also uses these methods with her patterns. 

            As far as classes, I am not currently teaching, as guess what.....all the independent fabric stores anywhere close to me (Indianapolis, IN area) are gone!  A good manual, some "me" time and a good shirt pattern should have you in business soon.  My first shirt was a silk dupioni shirt - this was in the middle '80's. I think my first shirt pattern was an old Stretch and Sew.  After that, I took magazine and catalog pictures and used the shirt pattern as a master and copied some great ideas.  Louise Cutting has a good shirt pattern with fantastic instructions.  Another good pattern is Stretch and Sew #342.  Another favorite, which is technically not a "shirt" is discontinued Vogue #7587.  Try to find Barbara's book.  She is a friend of mine. 

          9. KharminJ | | #24

            Hi LJ!

            Hey, would your friend Barbara consider republishing her book? There are several-to-many on-line and on-demand publishing operations available (Lulu.com comes immediately to mind, but I'm not sure they're the "best" - depends on your definition of the word!) (Cafe Press also publishes books on-demand - http://www.cafepress.com/cp/info/sell/books.aspx - although you can't tell from their site, I Googled "on-demand books") that wouldn't require anywhere near the kind of up-front costs she encountered the first time around, and I'm sure *we* here would be her first customers!

            Bright Blessings ~


          10. iceni | | #25

            Hi everyone. I just googled the abebook link and unfortunately they don't ship to canada. It's the same on some of the ebay sites that have the book I want. Perhaps the books are too heavy to ship. If anyone knows of a canadian site, pleasse let me know. Best regards


          11. KharminJ | | #26

            Hi Iceni!

            I just looked at the AbeBooks site (http://www.abebooks.com/help/Searching-Ordering/shipping-rates-and-speeds.html) and it seems like you may simply have picked a US bookseller who doesn't ship internationally. Try searching for a Canadian one (The box at the top of the results page lets you sort by seller's location) Good luck to you!


          12. iceni | | #27

            HI KarminJ: Thanks for the info. I am very new to computers and I'm really dumb on them so evry bit of advice helps. I am hoping to get a book from a local source, asinger Perfect Fit, so I hope it works if i do. I need a costume that fits before the end of November.

            Best wishes


          13. Gloriasews | | #28

            Try http://www.chapters.ca or http://www.amazon.ca or http://www.indigo.ca.   Probably Amazon would be your best bet, as they also have used copies available (from other dealers), too.  Good luck!


          14. iceni | | #30

            Hi Gloriasews. I am getting a used copy of The Perfect fit ,by singer today so I hope I find what I want. If I do, and anyone is interested I could copy it for them



          15. Gloriasews | | #31

            Sounds good.  You'll probably won't get it until 2 or 3 weeks away, but you were lucky to find a copy.


          16. iceni | | #32


            good morning Gloriasews. I have the copy already and I've read it, but...I guess I am too dumb to understand it completely.A Princess style seems to be easier to add tobut as to different styles I.m not so sure. Maybe there should be a sewing book for Dummies.  I can't nderstand why if your high bust is 36, you choose thatsize pattern, then add.(I am 44D) I would have to add 8 inches all over the place and I'm just not confident enough to do it. So I will stick to bat sleeved tops . I can make skirts and pants but dresses and tops are out. Thankyou very much to everyone who has so kindly tried to help me.

            Best regards


          17. marymary | | #33

            No, iceni, don't give up.  You don't enlarge the bust area by the amount of the difference.  If you are a D and using a B pattern, which is the way most are drafted, the difference you would have to add with a FBA is 1 1/2" - 2" that you change the pattern by slash and spread. 

            I have not been following this thread very closely, so there is probably a lot that I have missed that others have said.  But, we can help you with this.

          18. marymary | | #34

            iceni, try this: http://www.timmelfabrics.com/fullbustalteration.htm  It isn't as hard as you think.

          19. iceni | | #40

            Hi Marymary. I have just printed off your suggestion and thanks for your help. I will try it.

            Best wishes Iceni

          20. Teaf5 | | #66

            Wow, that's an incredible site!  The description and diagrams of the full-bust alteration are better than any I've ever seen before.  The steps are simple and the reason for each is explained.  I printed it out and hope to be inspired to sew for myself again....thanks!

          21. iceni | | #39

            Everyone is so kind and I feel so dumb, but I will try all suggestions. I have to make a costume for a dinner theatre part i am in. I need it for the end of november. So with evrybody's help I think I might do it. Thanks a lot

            Best regards Iceni

          22. Gloriasews | | #35

            The pattern based on your high bust measurement ensures that it'll fit around your shoulders, because, if you get the pattern by your true bust measurement, the shoulders & neck are usually way too large & you may have to keep fiddling with your pattern to get it to fit.  Do try the FBA on a muslin & see how it fits.  Have you checked the archives here, as there have been many comments over the past couple of years on this adjustment.  Read them all & don't give up yet!


          23. iceni | | #41

            Hi gloriasewa . thankyoiu once again. You are all very patient. I appreciate the advice. I will try all suggestions.

          24. Gloriasews | | #52

            Whatever you do, don't feel dumb.  As several have mentioned, there are no dumb questions.  We're all learning something here every day.  All the other gals have given you great suggestions, so fear not - charge onwards!  Once you've done it, you'll be surprised how easy it was.  Good luck!


          25. iceni | | #53

            Thanks Gloria, It feels like I've suddenly found a lot of lost sisters, it's very encouraging. I'm taking the chance today and I'm doing the skirt part of my out fit, and then the top!

            Best regards


          26. Gloriasews | | #54

            See?  It didn't take you long to feel at home with us - good.  Now, good luck with your sewing, especially your bodice adjustment.


          27. iceni | | #61

            I think i've lived in the woods too long , but  think you are all great.


          28. Gloriasews | | #63

            Better late than never!  Now you have a nice group of instant friends.


          29. iceni | | #64

            I love it. The very best to all

          30. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #36

            Iceni, Gloria is right.  It seems complicated at first, but it is not. 

            Sometimes it is helpful to try a new pattern adjustment technique on a small paper mockup pattern for practise.  Since you only need the front bodice piece for this,  find a picture of a bodice pattern with markings and photocopy it, enlarging it to a workable size, usually 1/4 the regular size of a pattern.  Then practise the techniqe, marking and cutting and moving and slashing the pieces as required.  It will all become much clearer.   Cathy

          31. iceni | | #42

            Thankyou threadcoe. you all seem so knowledgable and I am grateful for the help.

            Best Regards


          32. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #45

            Do not feel that you are dumb about this.  It is just a new sewing and learning experience!  Think how smart you will feel when you have done it!  Do not be afraid.  Just jump in and do it.  It is well worth it.  Good Luck and Happy Sewing.  If you have more problems with it, we are all here to help you still.  Cathy

          33. iceni | | #47

            How kind you are. When and I mean when , not if. I get this costume finished I will let you all know. Thanks a million


          34. KharminJ | | #48

            Hi Iceni!

            Glad to hear you're getting past the "I'm too dumb" approach (grin!) ~ it's generally *never* really true, and just adds another roadblock to get over, under, around or through!

            If your soup-to-nose rings store (love that image!) has cotton, or even polyester "gingham" (woven-in checks) fabric (or curtains), you can use that instead of genuine muslin to make your fitting "muslin" out of. Using gingham may even make the fitting easier, because you'll have all the parallel and straight-of-grain lines right in the fabric.

            Keep asking questions! Sometimes, just the act of formulating the question, helps one to figure out what the answer is, or how it works.


            My copy of the Singer Perfect Fit came today - YAY - and OMG is that a lot to digest! I think it's one of the most information-intense books I've every seen. Definitely goes in the "reading room" for a while!

            Happy November, everybody!


          35. iceni | | #49

            Hi Kharmin. I will use the curtain material. I will feel like Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind!!! Yes I am trying to digest things in the Perfect Fit. It has lots of good stuff in it. Happy weekend everybody

            Thanks to all


          36. jatman | | #37

            Hi Iceni,

            I just ran across this pattern company.  Can't say that I've used them but maybe someone else has and can tell you if the fit is good for D cups:


            Don't give up!


          37. iceni | | #38

            Thankyou Jatman. I will try the website. I am waiting for a reply from Simplicity but they haven't got back to me yet. hope everyone had a safe and happy Halloween


          38. iceni | | #43

            Hi jatman. I have joined the pattern company's email list and i am waiting to find out if the patterns are available in Canada. Thanksfor pointing me in the right direction, as that company has patterns for D cups. Yeah!



          39. jatman | | #29

            Thank you for that info.  I will put Sewing Magic on my list of books to look for.  I don't see any copies available anywhere right now but you never know!


          40. patipalmer | | #60

            I might suggest for shirt making Marta Alto's DVD called Learn to Sew a Shirt or Blouse. It includes fitting, cutting, marking and sewing two styles of shirts. One has a collar with a band, the other a convertible collar. Also, I have done several shirt patterns for McCall's that include fitting instructions as well as alteration lines printed on the tissue. There are several styles to choose from.  Pati Palmer, Palmer/Pletsch

          41. ljb2115 | | #62

            Thank you for the reminder. Also, congratulations for being inducted into the ASG Sewing Hall of Fame.  I know this is a bit late, but just recently received my copy of Notions magazine. 

          42. KharminJ | | #19

            Thanks for that AbeBooks link! I just ordered a hard cover copy for less than 4 bucks.

            I love reading old books about "How To Do" all kinds of things ~ so often a modern book just re-hashes what was in the original - you might as well go to the source! Kharmin

          43. jatman | | #22

            Hi KharminJ,

            I just ordered mine, too.  Can't wait to get it!


          44. starzoe | | #14

            Some time ago I went into all the bra sites I could find, and each one of them had different instructions for fitting! Long experience has taught me to try on everything. Professional help is pretty much lacking in bra departments. There's a type of bra sold here in stores (I think it is a franchise) which is supposed to be fitted by an "expert". I inspected one of them in my approximate size - it looked like a cross between a heavy nursing bra and a back brace, layers and layers of crossover, stretchy fabric. Pricey too. Well, I know already I don't need any more layers!

          45. Cathie | | #16

            This is all very helpful. I got the Perfect Fit book (Hubby got it at a charity shop for a gift), and have looked at it a bit, but, not digested though! About the bras, Don McCunn has on-line classes to custom fit. And you can peek free at some of it. He relates bra fit to clothes fit, like Empire fit, etc. I have a huge bra collection, but sit writing this in a very good cami (cotton) with a lot of lycra. I have not yet tried to make a bra, and am exasperated that bra cups swing out sideways and bra straps are way too short, so cups are on my upper chest. My breasts are facing forward. Any special things about us that we notice are where we need to make sure our clothes fit!!!!! I"m not there YET. Another LOVELY author is Adele Margolis, who writes about patternmaking and alteration, as well as sewing. From the 60's and 70's. Get your hands on anything from her. In all her books there are wonderful, unusual, and simple ways to alter patterns. I am gathering info, so once these UFO's are done will cut out better (for my shape). But, we must be patient, as there is a learning curve.Cathie!

          46. sewanista | | #55

            This is a rather late reply to Cathie, who comments that her bras swing outwards, but her bust points forwards. I just did a bra making workshop with Jill Bradshaw of BoobyTraps in Sydney, Australia. The solution to this was really easy, but not intuitive. The centre band panel, which has three extensions, one up between the breasts, and the other two under, needs to be narrower at the lower edge. She just ruled the centre front, which on her pattern is on a fold, on more of an angle. This shortened the lower edge, so she added length at the side seam. It would be like taking a dart in a finished bra straight down the front. I was impressed. I had assumed I would have to fiddle with the cup shaping. If you ever get to Sydney, do one of her classes. I have been a professional patternmaker for 20 years, (even making evening wear with cups) and I learnt heaps!

          47. Cathie | | #56

            Thanks so very much for this super reply. I write this wearing (in desperation) a Gilda Marx ballet leotard, with yoga-type pants. Cathie in Quebec.

          48. iceni | | #18

            Hi I know what u mean. It's the same with clothing. I am 5 ft tall and most shoulders for my bust size are on my elbows.lol. It is a problem though.Thanks for contcting me.


          49. MaryinColorado | | #67

            I look forward to that CD, hope we remember to check for it after the Holidays!  Mary

  4. User avater
    artfulenterprises | | #13

    I'm not sure if this will work here in the posting board but I'll give it a shot. I'm attaching a .pdf document to this message which is a download from http://www.simplicitypatterns.com. It tells you all about measuring and adjusting fit for their patterns including how to adjust bra cup size from C to D. Hope this helps.

    1. Cathie | | #15

      Thanks, the PDF file worked. This is a very helpful article. I have been pulling my hair out, as I am approximately a 14, but with about a 45 to 46 D plus bust. Thanks, Cathie!

    2. iceni | | #17

      How kind of you to send me the measurements. thankyou I am copying it now. I.m sure it will help.

      1. User avater
        artfulenterprises | | #44

        Just an additional note on slashing and spreading your pattern to adjust for a larger bust:

        One of the most graphic ways to understand the process is to make up a muslin in the pattern you are wanting to alter.  With the garment on, make the cuts shown on the diagram directly in the muslin rather than on paper.  (You can premark the muslin with the areas to be slashed if it will help guide you.)  It will show you immediately where you need extra room.  Use a small piece of muslin to fill in the gaps smoothly and pin it in place.  Then, deconstruct the bodice (leaving your filler muslin in place) and lay your muslin on a fresh piece of paper and trace it with a tracing wheel.  Be sure to keep the straight and cross grains squared to one another and don't over stretch the fabric when pinning it to your paper.  Be sure, when you are making the muslin, to mark all your seam lines with tracing paper and a tracing wheel, remarking with Sharpie pens if necessary for clarity.  This will help you to achieve a more accurate fit and guide you more clearly when you are remaking the pattern after fitting.

        Keep the faith!  You can do it!

        1. iceni | | #46

          Phew! Thanks for your input. I am everwhelmed by the kind help from starngers. I guess as sewers we are all sisiters under the fabric. I have no idea where to get muslin , but next time I am in a big fabric store i will look for it. I live in a rural area, with one store than sells everything from soup to bulls's nose rings, with a littlle bit of fabric in the back shop.

          Take care Iceni

          1. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #50

            Just a note to help you out.  Muslin can be any fabric you use to make a practice fitting garment with.  As long as the fabric is on the straight of grain, and a similar weight of fabric, you can use it.  I have used old worn sheets, old garments, tablecloths (holes, stains and all) and cheap sale fabrics ( walmart 1.98 ugly stuff) when I can get my hands on it.  Even scraps from old projects will work if they are about the same weight, the pattern on them does not matter.  You are marking and cutting to fit anyway.  Smile sweetie, you have friends here to help.  Do not let everything overwhelm you!   Cathy

          2. iceni | | #51

            Hi Cathy , you are all so helpful, I am overwhelmed with everybody's patience. I didn't think to use other material. My nearest walmart is 50 miles away but I know they sell horribly patterened material at 1.97. I never thought of using that. Thanks for telling me.

            Kind regards


    3. User avater
      heramenas | | #65

      greetings from Pretoria, south Africa.  Thanks so much for alterations info - I'll be trying it out very soon.  I've been sewing for years and as a DDplus cup I'm always looking for ways of improving the fit of my clothes. And fit is everything. when you are curvy, having clothes that fit well is incredibly flattering. thanks again



  5. KharminJ | | #20

    So, I was noodling around on the http://www.AbeBooks.com site, looking for other books in the Singer series, and found this one from Taunton, published in 2002 -

    Sewing for Plus Sizes: Creating Clothes That Fit and Flatter

    by Barbara Deckert

    ISBN 10: 1561585513, ISBN 13: 9781561585519

    Binding: Softcover

    One of the sellers has this description:

    "Designed for size 14 and up, a wonderful guide to creating your own stylish clothes, with great techniques for sizing up any pattern, special concerns for plus-size sewers, and terrific advice on the designs, fabrics, and colors that flatter the fuller figure."

    Has anybody used this? ~ it sounds valuable for lots of us here...Kharmin (who really should be sewing, not typing!)

    1. Cathie | | #57

      I am a late replier here. I have used this book, and it is SUPER. One other reason it works for me is because I am using charity shop finds, so I may have a size 10, or a 12, and must size up. Being a D cup, super curvy, and with petite proportions, but long limbs, I love how she shows how to fine tune garments, without re-inventing the wheel, or getting a migraine!

      1. Cathie | | #58

        Me again. For D cup ladies, who want Canadian patterns, try ordering from Sewgrand Patterns, Petite Plus Patterns, and Pavelka Design, all on the web. Off to bed. Take care!

  6. patipalmer | | #59

    Well, this might be too easy and sound self-serving, but Palmer/Pletsch patterns have alteration lines printed on the tissue for full bust adjustments with instructions in the guide on how to do it based on the book Fit for Real People. You might try one for practice. Then you can draw your own lines on any other pattern. You can e-mail me at [email protected] and I can send you a pattern list.  Take care, Pati

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