One of the best things about sewing your own clothing is being able to make clothes that are tailored exactly to your own body, fit the way you like, and are in the fabrics that you like. The challenge for those of us that are well blessed in the chest department, however, can be finding patterns that are designed to even come close to fitting us from the start. Most conventional pattern companies and designers are sized for a woman that has a B-cup which is especially amusing to me considering the average chest size in America is a 34DD…
That means even the “average” woman would have challenges fitting into patterns right form the initial draft and those of us that exceed that average really shouldn’t even try to fit in a traditional pattern designed to be made of woven fabrics (the stretch of knit can make it much more forgiving!) without expecting a lot of frustration and wasted time and fabric.
One of the most common strategies to fix this issue is is doing a full bust adjustment, or FBA, which I have talked about in the past. This is basically the process of splitting a pattern into pieces and taping them back together at different widths and angles to make more “room” in the pattern piece to compensate for a larger bust. While this typically works, it is a pain in the butt to do, takes a lot of time, and can take a lot of trial and error to get just right. I really dislike doing FBAs, in case you can’t tell, and try to avoid them at all costs.
How do I avoid having to do FBAs? Well first of all I pretty much only sew knit clothing. Knits stretch making them fit over larger busts much easier and then “shrink” back into shape over the stomach and hips. The trick here is you don’t want your clothing to have to stretch too much because then it will just look ill fitting and unflattering.
Another trick I use for certain patterns is cutting the front pattern piece a size larger than I need and the back a size smaller, grading them to that the neckline and arm holes match. This creates extra room in the front of the piece for the bust. I find this works best on looser fitting patterns (like the Made For Mermaids Mama Ava) and jacket/cardigans that are worn open in the front. I would highly suggest muslin-ing this on any new patterns but when it works it really works!
Another great strategy to getting around having to do FBAs is spending the time looking for patterns and pattern designers that do take the time to design for those of us that are top heavy. There are some amazing designers out there that are making patterns designed for the heavily busted and I have listed some of my favorites below!
Cashmerette Patterns – come in cup sizes up to G/H !
5 out of 4 Patterns – especially the cowl neck top pattern!
Simplicity Amazing Fit Curvy Patterns – easy to find but more standard designs
Are there any other great pattern designers that make patterns fit for the heavily busted that you know of? If so please share because I am always on the hunt for new patterns and designers!