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pattern adjustments for a large-busted g

bettina | Posted in Fitting on

I’d like to hear of anyone’s experience trying to fit a large-busted figure – 36 D – to be exact.  I understand how to make the standard bust adjustments – which work in the horizontal dimension at the bust line.  My problem is how to make fabric lie smoothly and fit below the bust – from the bust to the waist – without molding to the torso.  Thanks for the insights – 


  1. SewNancy | | #1

    That is my size, and I do a full bust addition, and if you dont need the extra at the waist just cut it off at the side seam. Take a look at Fit for Any Body by Palmer Pletsch. They have some of the best illustrations and explanations on this.

  2. Teaf5 | | #2

    I am the same size, so I need to adjust for full bust, too. However, my ribcage is very small, so that extra fabric makes a very boxy shape.  On drapey fabrics, like rayon, I make open ended vertical tucks (1-2" long) at the waistline in the front and back to give more of an hourglass shape. 

    On cottons and shirtings, I use vertical darts starting about 2" from the bust point, getting wider at my waistline, and then tapering again to end about 2" above the hem; I do two more in the back, starting below my shoulder blades and ending about 2" above the hem. 

    I always do the front darts or tucks first, then adjust the back ones so that the blouse fits as loosely or snugly as I would like it to.

    1. dreaming | | #3

      This all has been very interesting. Burda patterns are for B/C cup. On another site someone mentioned that in a very current Burda mag. there is article on full bust alteration. I have a fairly improvisational sewing style, and collect vintage patterns, sewing mags, and sewing books. So, I have the full bust article in a Burda Plus mag. from the 90's. But, you can see the same in their new book, which Hubby got me for birthday. I read to-day there was a Burda fitting pamphlet available (when?, maybe you can find one). I can really relate to your frustration with the large bust, smaller shoulders, and the person with the smaller rib cage, who so ingeniously explained her technique with open tucks, and vertical darts. Thank you. I also have my collection of info to help solve my myriad fitting dilemmas. Burda does give you many measurements to check, so is accurate, and thanks for info on lower bust. A poster also said the Burda idea is to create a personalized pattern. Barbara Deckert, who writes for Q & A at Sew News, has a Wonderful book on Plus sewing. The very angular Ameican ideal really makes size 14 and up a Plus person, especially if very busty. Barbara offers FABULOUS and detailed instructions to create a personalized pattern from a commercial pattern. She also realizes full busted is often a D, or more. Some bust increases suggested elsewhere just don't cut it. I am sick and tired of being squashed, and  am running to my sewing room. Then, there is also Lutterloh (also German), for personalized fit. Kits to make patterns might be about $200., but sell second-hand. I was mega-blessed, and got a kit (which includes style book), for $2. at a church store. Another way to personalize.

      1. SewNancy | | #4

        I really find it interesting that so many people think that they can find a pattern that will fit them out of the envelope. Well, duh, if you couldn't find off the rack clothes that fit well why would you expect a pattern to fit without alterations? At least the patterns are more uniform in their fit than rtw and if you work out your adjustments you can pretty much just do them on other patterns for that company. For me Burda is a great fit with some adjustments that at this point are pretty much standard. The whole point of sewing for oneself, aside from creativity, is to get that great custom fit and we can't get in rtw. Bite the bullet and make a muslin. Make notes on the muslin of what you did and then you will be one step closer to great fit on everything you sew.

        1. dreaming | | #5

          Thanks Nancy. Being self-taught (thru books, sewing mags, pattern instructions, and  mercifully, I now have discovered such beautiful, and helpful sewing sites) I sometimes skip a step or two. I am VERY curvey, and range in "size" from 14 to 24 in one body. A muslin is a great idea, and as you say, once figured out, and using the same company, the changes are the same. I guess I will cut it longer, and wider, so have some play room. I have printed some VERY helpful suggestions from you ladies on narrow upper chest with very full bust, as well as others. I have a gorgeous stash, gorgeous patterns, lots of notions,  a great sewing room, but fit has been a stumbling block. Then, there is the question of accurate measurements. What Burda suggests (and people like Barbara Deckert) sounds VERY good. The old bust, waist, hips just does not cut it.

        2. ctirish | | #6

          I have been watching this thread for a while, and for me a -36D- the best solution is still the T-shirt pattern by Pamela's Patterns. She takes into account all the problems that occur for women and of course you can make any changes to her patterns you need. She has written for Threads several times and you can always e-mail her for advice and help, she is great about responding.  Currently I am making an outfit that needs a tunic - she said she has a new pattern coming out for this, but I am adjusting the T-shirt pattern for it. She also has a pattern to take the T-shirts you get at concerts, fairs, etc. and converting them into something you can wear and enjoy.  Her website is http://pamelaspatterns.com .

          1. SewNancy | | #7

            Thats great if all you want to sew is a t shirt, but I love couture and want to make beautiful clothes in beautiful fabrics with a great fit. Learning how to fit is not that hard(well, pants are another story, but with perserverence I have finally done it) A fba is one of the easier adjustments to make and there are many fitting books that offer well illustrated methods. In my sewing room I have a closet with double doors that have mirrors mounted on the inside. I have the floor marked with the optimal placement for viewing my rear and plunger type step on door stops to hold the doors in place. What a difference it makes to be able to see the back easily. I also have a duct tape dress form that makes life a lot easier. I have been sewing for many years and am still learning about fit, especially as I age, my body certainly has changed!

          2. nisee | | #8

            I enjoyed all the information and discussion on this fitting problem. I, too, am a D but my bagginess is above the bust. My shoulders have narrowed and a 14 is almost too large.  I love suits and jackets by designers and have quite a collection.  I am grateful for Threads magazine and this discussion format for many helpful directions.  I am getting quite a library for reference.  Thank you all.

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