Fitting a Full BustLearn why patterns don't fit straight out of the envelope, and how to adjust the bust for a smoother, more flattering fit.
Full-busted women often have trouble finding a good fit in ready-to-wear garments, and it’s not much easier when working with commercial patterns. Daryl Lancaster, a frequent Threads contributor and sewing instructor, explains how to determine the pattern size you need for your body structure. Then she explains how to add or increase a bust dart to improve the fit.
Find your pattern size
Daryl suggests working with the chest size, rather than the full-bust measurement, to determine which pattern size to sew. Take the chest measurement around the body, above the bust and under the arms. Then measure the full bust. There’s an easy formula for using these dimensions to calculate the pattern size you need.
You’ll also learn how commercial pattern sizes were developed in the decades following World War II, and why they don’t fit most women straight from the envelope.
Add or increase a bust dart
Patterns are drafted for a figure with a bust circumference 2 inches larger than the chest circumference. If your measurements have a larger difference, you need to add a dart (if the pattern doesn’t include one) or increase an existing bust dart. Daryl takes you through this process step by step, noting that a similar adjustment can be used to reduce the bust cup for A-cup figures.
Once you’ve added or enlarged the dart, you redraw the dart and lengthen the hem at center front. For figures with a full bust but slender midriff, some of the added width below the bust can be taken out with a vertical dart. Again, place the dart point 1 inch to 1 1/2 inches directly below the bust point.
Insiders can learn more expert techniques from more Daryl videos, including “Tips for Cutting Bias Strips” and “Pro Techniques for Applying Bias Binding.”