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full bust dart alterations

AuroraJewel | Posted in Fitting on

I’m a fairly experienced sewer, but am having a terrible time trying to alter an existing pattern for my petite, large busted daughter.  I always end up with these terrible points.  I’ve tried moving the dart point so it’s about an inch away from the actual apex, and I’ve understood how more length is needed, but I don’t know if you lengthen the bodice only under the bust, or if you extend it to the sides and center also.  My guess is only under the bust (for an empire waist).  If I have to put in more than one dart to make it smoother, my daughter may not accept it.  Must I leave very little ease in the circumference around the bust?  Ack! 


  1. Ariadne | | #1

    Try backing the dart off to 1 1/2 inches or more if it look better or her.  If she is very full it might help to have 2 darts or some darts hidden is seaming.  Also you may want to add that extra length to the bodice below the dart.  Do you want the bodice to hug the ribcage or hang staight from the bust? 

  2. Crafty_Manx | | #2

    I am very full-busted too (I usually choose to sew looser shirts because I'm pretty sensitive about it).  Anyways, the last time I adjusted a more fitted style involved making the dart wider and adding extra fabric above and below it.  I had to add 1 1/2 inches to the dart so I added 3/4 inch to each side of the dart center, then cut and spread the pattern piece to add 3/4 inch above the dart, and 3/4 inch below it.

    Threads ran an article a couple of issues back on what wrinkles tell you in a muslin and hot to re-fit the pattern to eliminate them.  I found this very helpful.  I forget what issue it was in, but I could look it up when I get home from work (unless someone beats me to it!).

    Good luck!


  3. carolfresia | | #3

    Julia, you might consider trying a pattern with princess seams--look for one in which the seams originate from the shoulder. Darts seem to really want to make a point, whereas princess seams control shaping in a somewhat smoother fashion. Now, it may be that in a garment with an empire waistline, there's not enough length through the bust shaping seam to get the amount of curve you're looking for--a quick muslin would help you figure that out.

    Keep your eye out for the upcoming issue of Threads (No. 107, June/July). There's an article on bust darts that might of use...unless, like many of us, you're making something that needs to be finished the day after tomorrow!


    1. Sunshine | | #4

      Someone spoke of an upcoming issue on darts.  It would be helpful if you might consider fitting techniques for those of us with mastectomies...and choose not to or cannot wear prostheses.  Perhaps you could just insert a side note as to suggestions on where to obtain the information...everything on darts and princess lines (totalling removing the fullness).  Believe me, you would be surprized how many of us you would be helping.  Texas

      1. carolfresia | | #5

        Dear Texas,

        Thanks for your suggestion. I'm going to forward it to our Q/A deparment editor, who might be able to provide you with info. on this.


        1. Sunshine | | #6

          "We" all appreciate your help.  Thanks so much!  Texas

          1. carolfresia | | #7

            You might want to take a look at Barbara Emodi's article on "Picking Patterns to Fit your Figure," in issue 109 (the one with the little red-haired girl on the cover). She has suggestions for styles that will work on a small-busted figure with little or no alterations; I've been following her rules and they work quite well.

            If you like semi-unusual clothes, you might also look at some of the Issey Miyake designs put out by Vogue, or patterns by The Sewing Workshop. These designs have a fair amount of design ease overall, but many of them also have interesting style lines that include folded, draped, or overlapped fronts. Styles like these can actually be tricker for fuller-busted figures to fit, but for those of us with relatively low topography, the extra fabric folds add some volume where we don't have it.


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