I spent a great deal of time reading and studying how to alter all of my patterns for my D-cup bust. For those of you who envy this type of curvature, I can assure you that it is no walk in the park. Most clothes large enough in the bust are too large in the waist and hips which makes for an awkward looking dress. My favorite dress is a navy wool/lycra v-neck from Ann Taylor that fits no matter how many extra pounds I’ve put on from eating too much turkey. It skims all the curves but also highlights the bust in a very flattering but chic way. This dress is a rarity and I know it, and I spent a lot of time trying to find a pattern to replicate it.
So between my reading, research and VHS-watching, I finally figured out how to do these adjustments for a large bust and have plenty of notes on how to make this work. This took a lot of time and energy and I must admit was daunting. Then I looked at a few patterns I had purchased early on and found something that has helped tremendously: the custom fit pattern.
As far as I can tell, all of the Big 4 carry these patterns which have separate pieces for each cup size – you cut your high bust size in the corresponding cup size and you’re done. (I’ll add that I’ve also learned that I can simply have a size 16 on the neck and arms but come out to an 18 or 20 if needed around the bust and/or waist before coming back in on the hip. Sandra Betzina taught me this.) My first project with the custom fit pieces was the Simplicity 2648 which is part of their Amazing Fit collection. You can customize the bust size as well as the skirt (slim, average, curvy) for a perfectly amazing fit. The sewing isntructions are also much more detailed with sections on fitting which is also helpful.
I made version B in the same black wool crepe that I used with my first project which was actually, I think, a good choice for this one since it lists about 10 fabrics on the envelope. I actually cut a size 16 (D cup) as well as the Average size 16 skirt. The pattern called for 1″ seam allowances but I reduced them to 5/8″ on the bodice and skirt, but kept them 1″ when installing the zipper. Unfortunately, in my ignorance, I cut out a bunch of patterns in one day before I knew how to size them, so I only had the size 20 facings, which leads me to the next lesson:
7. Cut out your pattern pieces post-adjustments, not before, and if you do, keep all pieces that you think you may not want or need.
Luckily this one could be cut down to the size 16, but I have a few that I have cut a 20 that I cannot go back and cut them smaller – I will just have to buy another pattern. And luckily I saved the version A and C sleeves and neck even though I originally thought I’d never want them.
The final version turned out really nice and the fit is near perfect – I’ve worn this to church, to work and to the symphony with a cashmere cardigan, tights, a patent belt around the waist (under the sweater) and flats. Sandra Betzina also taught me that anyone with a waist above 30″ should always belt UNDER a sweater. I am so pleased with this dress that I’ve decided to make version A and C, although I may leave off the sleeve on version C and just keep it a sleeveless V-neck.
You can’t tell but the sweater is on the hanger as well, in front of a J.Crew toggle coat with hood. Not sure if I’ve mentioned it yet, but I LOVE princess seams – how easy are they? So much easier than adjusting bust darts!
I also learned Lesson #8: I NEED A SERGER! I have already grown tired of the fraying edges on the side seams and would love to do a French Seam on each if I could make myself do the math, OR I could just buy a serger. Seriously, it’s on the list.