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Fitting a strapless dress.

educo | Posted in Fitting on

I’m having a bit of a dilema. I have a 34D and I’m making an empire line strapless dress. I initally draped it with no seam going through the bust, just 2 darts. When I proceeded to try the sample on, the garment flattened my boobs. I added to the side seam, and no results. The Strapless section looks shaped, but when I put it on it flattens my chest again. I loosen the darts and the top neckline gapes. Is it necessary with a bust size like mine, to put in a seam through the bust?

How can I achieve a close, but a non-flattening, non-gaping, strapless dress?


  1. mygaley | | #1

    This is a problem I have had a lot with my customers.  Try lengthening the bodice (think large bust adjustment) even though it is very narrow and then make your darts deeper to put more fabric over your full bust.  This is probably the same alteration you already do with less formal patterns.  When I cut similar bodices, I first add 2 in. to the pattern length.   Another thing you could try, but you already know this, is to put princess seams in the bodice but you have to do the same lengthening and darting.  Notice that you are not making the pattern piece bigger around, you are just adding more shape to it.  You also might have to have an underbust dart.  I am so proud that you have made a sample first!  God bless you as you sew. Galey

    1. educo | | #2

      I have decided to re-drape the top part with a seam through the bust. I will do this again tonigh and make another sample. I have learned that if you don't make atleast 1 sample first, then you'll be sorry later!
      Thank you!

      1. mainestitcher | | #3

        Are you draping this on a mannequin? Mine have AAAA bustlines (none at all) so I adjust the chest to a smaller measurement, and fit her with an appropriately sized bra. Unless you have a custom mannequin or duct-tape double, the draping will always be "off."

        1. educo | | #4

          Yes I'm draping on a form. I have a form that is built only for evening garments, so the bust and butt are more pronounced. I have altered the form to my cup size and the remaining measurements are off 1/2" at MOST.
          I don't have trouble with the other things it's just the bust is throwing me off. I have draped another pattern with a seam through the bust so it will have more shape, but I still have to make a sample and fit it to me.

  2. suesew | | #5

    What is actually supporting the weight of your breasts? Usually strapless dresses have some built in support such as boning that is attached to a lining piece that sits snugly at the waistline. If you line the dress and include good boning support that might solve the flattening problem. The other posts offer good advice about getting the correct shape, but the correct shape won't actually hold you up.

    1. educo | | #6

      Well technically, just the front neckline is a strapless shape. the back neckline is higher and shaped up to the neck, kind of like a raglan shape back without the sleeve. Then I'm attaching a strap to the entire length of the neckline arond to the back and it's attaching halter style. It's hard to explain. But I am deciding to put some boning or a hidden underwire, but I was so concerned about the flattening problem I was having.

  3. mem | | #7

    Threason its flattening you is that you are not adding into the CUP of the bust just into the circumference thia then makes it gape at the top What you need to do is do a full bust adjustment I do thios all the time but have never done it on a strapless pattern I would get a pattern which is like a basic bodice block front and cut it out of tissue then mount a copy of  your strapless one on it and see how doing a full bust adjustment will affect your pattern . You would do the adjustment on the two patterns combined and then take the strapless one off and it should be altered in such a may as to add fullness to the cup but not to the overall size of your bodice piece.

    1. SewNancy | | #10

      I made 2 dresses for my daughter who is a 32D while not strapless they were spaghetti strapped, I had to make a full bust adjustment to the front and this is very effective. I started out with her upper bust adjustment to choose the pattern size. I did this to a Burda mag pattern and a Vogue pattern. You have to make sure that if it is darted that you stop the dart further back. I read that if you draw a 2" circle around the bust pt and then the dart needs to at least touch or fall into the cirlce, depending on the cup size. A princess seam makes it so much easier to fit, and you don't have the problem of pointy darts which can be a problem if you have a very wide dart.

  4. User avater
    artfulenterprises | | #8

    If you go online to mccall.com, butterick.com, or simplicity.com and look up their consumer information guidelines section, there is a very explicit description of how to adjust your pattern for different size bra cups. Basically, you are slashing through the bust dart to bust point and waist dart into armscye, stopping at seamline, then snipping seam allowance just to the seamline leaving a "hinge" of paper. Then spread the slash 1/2" for C, 3/4" for D and 1 1/4" for larger than D. I might also add that if you have a hollow curve above the breasts, you may want to remove some of the excess fabric by making tiny darts in your paper pattern to eliminate the "gap" at the top of the bodice. I suggest you add Helen Joseph Armstrong's book, "Patternmaking for Fashion Design" to your library. It gives you all the details.

    1. educo | | #9

      I have Armstrong's book. I have done the contour patterns but, when drawing the circumfrence of your bust onto the sloper, my bust pratically goes over CF. The issue is, I have a small chest and back but my bust is big. I will go the website and research this some more. Thanks to everyone for their input.

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