Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Full Bust Alteration on Sewing Patterns

It struck me after the last post that I had buried the useful links on full bust alterations in the middle of a post on another topic. Just to be clear, I think full bust pattern alterations are the cat's jammies, the cream in my coffee, and way, way better than sliced bread. (Feel free to add your own favorite archaic slang superlative.)

One reason I'm so excited about them is that for years I tried in vain to improve the fit of my shirts, blouses, and jackets. I read books, made slopers, bought pattern after pattern, and cut out disappointing garment after disappointing garment. My problem didn't fit the classic full bust diagnosis, and besides, this is America. How could anyone's bust be too large?

I happened on the issue when I was altering bra patterns. It seems that most sewing pattern companies assume a B-cup bra size. The majority of American women require a C-cup or larger, which means that many of us will benefit from a full bust alteration on sewing patterns.

I tried the adjustment to see what would happen, and it made all the other alterations I'd been using unnecessary. I don't have dowager's hump, forward thrusting shoulders, or a sway-back. Instead, I'm a Jane Russell kind of gal!

Now, this is not just a nicer label for my middle-aged figure. I'm reworking my pattern collection, and getting flattering garments with a minimum of fuss. Sewing is so much more fun when the results are pleasing.

Here's how to determine if the full bust alteration might help you with pattern fitting. First, wearing your best-fitting bra, measure your chest at its fullest point. This is called your full bust measurement, or often, simply your bust measurement. Then, measure your chest above your bust, just under your armpits. This is known as your high bust measurement. If the difference between your full bust measurement and high bust measurement is substantially more than two inches, you may find this pattern alteration useful.

Instead of selecting your pattern size based on your full bust measurement, take your high bust measurement, add two inches, and base your pattern size selection on that number. These helpful links give clear, well-illustrated directions on making a full bust adjustment for various garment types.

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